New sports betting bill filed in Ohio

10 April 2019

Two lawmakers have introduced a new bill in Ohio that would lead to the legalisation and regulation of sports betting in the US state.

The submission by State Representatives Dave Greenspan and Brigid Kelly has come less than a month after another sports betting bill, Senate Bill 111, was put forward by Senators John Eklund and Sean O’Brien.

However, SB111, which would permit the state’s 11 casinos and racinos to offer sports wagering, has not been put before any committees so far, raising concerns that the bill is already running out of oxygen.

House Bill 149, the new proposal from Greenspan and Kelly, would allow the Ohio Lottery Commission to regulate sports betting in Ohio. Among the requirements would be the addition of two individuals to the commission, bringing the total number to 11, and ensuring that at least three members have specific experience in the sports wagering industry.

A new Sports Gaming Advisory Board would also be created to research and develop recommendations for the commission over a three-year period. The board would consist of 11 members, seven of whom would be appointed by the Governor, two by the Senate and two by the House.

The Casino Control Commission would also play a central operational role in sports wagering across the state, the bill adds, with the body having the authority to regulate and investigate sports betting activities at the direction of the Ohio Lottery Commission.

The bill has proposed a 10% tax on sports betting, with one-fifth of the money raised being ploughed into a fund to tackle problem gambling.

“At its core, this bill is intended to provide additional funding for public education in Ohio by making sports betting legal,” Greenspan said. “The format and structure of the bill provides clarity as to the authority overseeing sport betting in Ohio while providing flexibility to address opportunities and challenges facing this newly legalised industry.”

SB111, the first sports betting bill to be introduced in the Ohio Senate in the current legislative session, outlined a licence fee of $100,000 (£76,000/€88,000) for venues that would like to offer sportsbooks. Licensees would then be able to enter partnerships with operators in order to offer sports wagering.

Casinos and racinos that secure a licence would be subject to a tax rate of 6.25% on gross sports betting revenue.

Ohio had been one of the only northwest states not to consider sports betting since the repeal of PASPA last year, with neighbouring Pennsylvania and West Virginia having already legalised sportsbooks.

Kentucky to the south is also considering a bill that would allow for legal sports wagering in the state, while Indiana’s House Ways and Means Committee has just advanced a sports betting bill to the House floor following a number of amendments.