Before the coronavirus started to create havoc around the country and the world, Ohio was struggling with another disease. Prescription drug addiction and deaths have been a rising battle in the state for more than five years.
With a record number of overdose deaths in 2019, some treatment programs were on the chopping block due to the economic downturn the virus has caused. This week the Ohio House passed a sports betting bill that, according to sources, “could be some light at the end of the tunnel.”
The source continued, “before this national health crisis, we are a state where we were struggling for funds to combat the drug addiction our citizens are plagued with. Now, more than ever, we must be able to raise funds that would go to very badly needed addiction treatment centers.”
According to the rules laid out in the sports betting bill, the Ohio Lottery Commission would be in charge of sports betting in the state. The sports betting bill is known as House Bill 193. The bill has bipartisan support and passed 83-10.
Kelly Happy With Progress
Democratic Representative Brigid Kelly was the sponsor and author of the sports betting bill. She met with reporters on Friday at the state capital in Columbus to discuss the bill passing the House.
Kelly thanked her colleagues in the House of Representatives for having the “foresight to do the right thing.” During the Thursday vote, there was no argument, which is rare for a bill of this nature.
Kelly spoke during the hearing about the virtues of sports betting. She said that people have been betting on sports in Ohio for decades, but it wasn’t legal, and the state never benefited from it.
Now, Kelly said, “with legalized sports betting, it will bring integrity to sports betting, keep it safe and regulated for consumers and raise much-needed revenue for the state.”
Keeping Bettors In-State
Representative David Greenspan is a Republican and is also a sponsor of the bill from Westlake, Ohio. He’s been in office since 2017 and was previously involved with various sports leagues, including the PGA Tour.
Both Greenspan and Kelly talked about a huge billboard advertising a sportsbook located in Indiana. The sign is less than 20 miles from the Indiana border.
“The fact that there is a billboard advertising a sportsbook in Indiana means we are losing money every second of every day,” said Kelly.
She went on to explain that “legalized sports betting in our state not only protects people that place bets but the games themselves Without some legal perimeters, anything is possible, and consumers have no recourse if something goes wrong.”
A State Monitoring System
Kelly also said:
“Right now, sports gaming happens off the books. We know it’s happening. But we aren’t collecting the revenue, and there is no way to monitor the bets to try and protect from any unscrupulous or suspicious activity.
“As part of our bill, we have a monitoring system that will be one of the strongest, if not the strongest in the nation. Statewide data will be available to the sports governing bodies through a centralized monitoring system.
“This is a mechanism that we can use to ensure the integrity of the wagers, and because it’s a centralized system, the data will be available to the commission across organization and books.”
The bill will now go to the Ohio Senate for a vote, where it is expected to pass.