The Columbus Dispatch
Ohio could legalize sports betting by 2023
Dewine says he would sign bill: ‘It’s time to do it’
Ohioans could bet on the Buckeyes, Browns, Bengals and other teams by 2023 under a new plan hammered out to legalize sports betting.
A 2018 U.S. Supreme Court decision allowed states to set up their own rules on sports gambling and so far, more than two dozen states have. Ohio, however, has been mired in debates over who should have access to the new industry and who should regulate it.
Sweeping changes made to House Bill 29 Wednesday afternoon passed swiftly through the Ohio Legislature without time for fans or foes to weigh in on the proposed law. It cleared the Ohio Senate with a 31-1 vote and passed the House 72-12.
Gov. Mike Dewine has said he would sign a bill legalizing sports betting in Ohio, reiterating in Massillon Wednesday: “It's time to do it.”
Sen. Kirk Schuring, R-canton, said the speed was necessary because Ohio lawmakers had already worked on the topic for years. More negotiations with groups fighting for a competitive edge wouldn't have helped, he added.
“It's like negotiating an agreement with the Ohio State Buckeyes, the Michigan Wolverines, the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees,” Schuring
said. “None of them like each other and they're highly competitive.”
Regulations could be in place to allow betting on college, professional and esports by next year. The deadline to kick off is Jan. 1, 2023 and there will be a universal launch date.
If signed into law, changes in House Bill 29 would allow Ohio to offer up to 25 five-year licenses for applicants that can bank a bet, such as Ohio's 11 casinos and racinos, to partner with online and mobile app-based betting services.
The bill would allow sports teams and Ohio's 11 casinos and racinos to operate up to two online betting websites and accompanying mobile apps, known as “skins.”
The first skin would cost $3 million. The second one would cost $10 million, but casinos and sports teams couldn't get that second “skin” unless they showed an “incremental economic benefit” to having it.
These “skins” are valuable because most sports betting is done online or on apps rather than in brick-and-mortar stores.
Additional licenses (Type Bs) for inperson betting would be offered to brick-and-mortar stores. Initial license fees would range from $50,000 to $100,000 depending on whether the
business already had an online betting license.
Bars with certain liquor licenses could apply for Type C licenses to offer spreads and over/under bets on kiosks. Clerks couldn't pay out more than $700 in wagers to an individual per week, but could pay in cash.
Licenses will be distributed across the state according to population. Businesses that want online and in-person sports betting would need to apply for multiple licenses.
A 10% tax would be imposed on net revenue from sports gaming. Most of that money would go toward public and private K-12 education with about 2% earmarked for problem gambling services. Another 0.5% of license fees would go toward veterans' services.
Sports gambling is expected to raise “several tens of millions of dollars per year, once the program is fully operational and sports wagering markets mature,” according to a Legislative Service
But Rep. Adam Miller, D-columbus, thinks the revenues could be even higher given “the interest in Ohio and our teams.”
The Ohio Casino Control Commission would oversee applications and regulate the new industry. Former House Speaker Larry Householder, Rglenford, wanted sports betting regulated by the Ohio Lottery Commission instead, but he was expelled from the Legislature amid a federal bribery probe.
Sportsbooks wouldn't need to use sports leagues' data under the new bill, but the casino commission could adopt rules if it chooses.
Other details will also need to be hammered out, and Miller thinks lawmakers will end up drafting another bill too.
“I would wager we are probably going to be back here in seven or eight months after the rule-making has concluded,” Miller said. “We worked hard to bring so many different stakeholders into the room that there are minor periods and commas and things like that, that we are going to need to fix.”
Reporter Stephen Grazier contributed to this article.
Anna Staver and Jessie Balmert are reporters for the USA TODAY Network Ohio Bureau, which serves the Akron Beacon Journal, Cincinnati Enquirer, Columbus Dispatch and 18 other affiliated news organizations across Ohio.
“I would wager we are probably going to be back here in seven or eight months after the rule-making has concluded. We worked hard to bring so many different stakeholders into the room that there are minor periods and commas and things like that, that we are going to need to fix.”