COLUMBUS, Ohio — The push to bring sports betting to Ohio is very close to becoming a reality with the State Senate and House each voting in favor of the sports betting bill, sending it to Governor Mike DeWine’s desk for a signature.
This has not been a road easily traveled, and even Wednesday, it faced a few last-minute speed bumps, delaying a vote for a time, but in the end, it's finally moving forward after the State House voted 72-12 in favor of the bill.
Since the U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way in 2018 for legalized sports betting outside of Nevada, 32 states have legalized it — seven this year alone. Ohio is about to become the eighth.
The House and Senate agreed to plans that will allow for 25 class A or mobile licenses, which is where most sports bets are placed — 40 brick-and-mortar locations, either standalone or in casinos, racinos and ballparks, as well as an undetermined amount of self-serve kiosks in bars and restaurants in communities of all sizes across the state.
"This is going to benefit the state of Ohio economically,” said State Senator Kirk Schuring, of Canton. “In addition, we all know that sports gaming is going on right now as we speak illegally, and we're going to put the necessary regulatory guardrails around it to make sure that it's done correctly here in Ohio."
The Senate president said the last-minute hold-up Wednesday was to make it so the state's casinos didn't end up with an advantage over the other sports betting players coming into the Ohio market.
The state will impose a 10% tax on all licensee winnings after all bets are paid, which is in line with states across the country, with the exception of Pennsylvania, which charges a nation-high 36%.
The state's Casino Control Commission will oversee sports betting, and at their request, they want all licensees to have a uniform start date so that they all start at the same time, which will be no later than Jan. 1 of 2023.
"We hope that it will start before then, but we want to make sure we do it right, we want to make sure we have the right regulatory guardrails, we want to make sure there's enough applicants out there who can take advantage of this new economic opportunity in the state of Ohio," Schuring said.
State legislators said they want to have all of it start at the same time so the online operations don't have an instant advantage over the brick-and-mortar operations or the small bars and restaurants.
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