Ohio Inches Closer To Legalizing Sports Betting

ohio representative Brigid Kelley
Brigid Kelley is one of two Ohio state representatives that have co-sponsored a bill that legalizes sports betting in the state.

As Ohio slowly starts to reopen its financial infrastructure, a sports betting bill has cleared the Ohio House Committee. There has been over a year of legal wrangling in the Buckeye State regarding attempts to legalize sports betting.

Wednesday was a monumental day for those that have worked to get a sports betting bill to advance. The bill, known as House Bill 194, was given the green light by the Ohio House Finance Committee.

The committee overwhelmingly recommended that the bill should keep advancing, so that it can be made into law. According to the bill, the Ohio Lottery Commission would oversee sports betting in the state.

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Sports betting revenue would be taxed at a rate of 10%. The profits the state makes from sports betting have been earmarked for education programs and gambling addiction programs.

Since the Finance Committee doesn’t have all Ohio house members, that would be the next step for House Bill 194. It will have to be sent to the House floor for a vote by all members of the House.

Sports Betting Bill Has Bipartisan and Governor’s Support

The bill has faced some snags with the Senate over which stage agency would regulate sports betting. There were also delays that came about due to the coronavirus.

The bill has two sponsors, one from each party. Republican Congressman Dave Greenspan of Westlake and Democratic Congresswoman Brigid Kelley of Cincinnati are behind this sports betting bill.

The bill sponsored by Greenspan and Kelley was expected to gain approval when the full House voted on Thursday. It would then advance to the Ohio Senate for a vote.

Kelley said, “There could be a bit of an issue once it goes to the Senate.” The Senate has a separate sports betting bill, that has different ancillary issues.

The major difference between the House bill and the Senate bill is which agency would regulate sports betting. The Senate bill calls for the Ohio Casino Gaming Control Commission to oversee and regulate sports betting.

ohio governor mike dewine
Ohio governor Mike DeWine reportedly wants sports betting in some form, but may favor the Senate bill over the House’s.

The Senate may have a bit of an advantage going forward. Governor Mike DeWine, a Republican in office since 2019, said he would prefer that the Casino Commission oversees sports betting. Greenspan said, “His bottom line is getting a bill passed; which one is not that important.”

Senate President Believes There Is A Fundamental Difference

The current president of the Ohio Senate, Larry Obhof, weighed in on the different approaches to sports betting by the House and Senate. Obhof, a Republican member of the Ohio Senate since 2011, is a civil attorney and a Yale Law School graduate. Obhof said:

“I think there is a strong disagreement between the two chambers. I think that Governor DeWine supports sports betting, but he would like the Casino Commission to regulate it.”

Obhof appeared before a pool of reporters at the capital in Columbus on Wednesday. He added:

“Although there are differences, we all still want sports betting to become law. We needed the money before the pandemic; we really need it now. Whatever the House sends us, we will look at it. If there have to be some changes made to the House bill, I believe the majority of the House and the Senate will be in favor of doing whatever is necessary to get the sports bill passed into law.”

Both the House and the Senate bills would allow mobile sports betting in the state. A non-partisan investigative group said that sports betting would raise between 10 to 15 million in revenue for state programs.

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