Finally, a bill to legalize sports betting in Ohio is out of the Senate and is heading to the House. The Ohio Senate Select Committee held its seventh and final hearing on SB 176 and ultimately gave it the approval that was needed.
The Senate approved the bill by a vote of 30-2, and there was one voter that abstained from the process. It has taken Senators months to get on the same page, and there were several new amendments added to the bill.
Senator Kenny Yuko ultimately voted to support the sports betting bill, but he had some concerns about how the licenses will be allocated. There is a much bigger emphasis on professional teams, and he believes that casinos and racinos will suffer from this legislation.
Yuko went as far as to say:
“The bottom line is the very casinos that brought us here to having this conversation today are kind of being forced out.”
Yuko has been instrumental in the Ohio gaming industry, and his words have plenty of merit with his fellow lawmakers.
The House of Representatives is expected to approve the bill as well, but it could propose new changes that would further delay the process. The Ohio legislature is in session through the remainder of 2021, but getting the bill signed quickly will allow the industry to launch sooner than later.
As of now, the target date to launch betting is April 1, 2022, and that date is pretty significant. This means that the state will miss out on the 2021 NFL season and most of the 2022 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.
Governor Mike DeWine has supported the legalization of sports betting, and he is expected to sign any bill that lands on his desk. This bill might be much different from the original one that was proposed, but it will likely lead to sports betting in Ohio.
A Look at New Changes
One of the biggest changes that were made to this bill was the number of licenses that will be available. There will now be 25 Class A licenses available and 33 Class B licenses.
Professional sports teams will have their preference on if they want to apply for a Class A or Class B license, and any annual event can also apply for a license. This includes PGA Tournaments that take place each year in the state, and professional sports should have a leg up on the rest of the state.
Class B licenses are only available in counties that have at least 100,000 residents, and there is a cap on the number available depending on the population. This will hurt smaller casinos or racinos that are in the smaller counties in the state.
Lawmakers also included language in this bill to establish a new program that studies problem gambling and aims to educate youth on how to gamble properly. All license applications will begin to be accepted on January 1, 2022, and they will be awarded on April 1, 2022.