Ohio attempting to get a sports betting bill passed is the equivalent of Cleveland sports. There is nothing really getting in the way for Cleveland lawmakers to make a move on Ohio sports betting. Yet, nothing was passed in 2020, and a bill has been created in 2021.
Cleveland sports have consistently gotten in their own way for decades until Lebron James came around and returned to Cleveland to win the cities first championship since the 1950s. Now, Ohio lawmakers look to find its Lebron in hopes of passing a sports betting bill this year.
Gov. Mike DeWine has already said he is confident that something will get done in 2021.
A New Committee
Ohio is facing unnecessary sets backs towards passing a sports betting bill. The state was trying to get something done last year but ran out of time before the 2020 sessions had ended. There has not been opposition from a group in the Buckeye State.
The only issue Ohio sports betting faced was that it lost multiple key members to the 2020 bill from the November election. Now, lawmakers need to regroup and form another committee to get something moving in 2021.
Ohio created another committee to oversee sports betting this week. Select Committee on Gaming will be chaired by Sen. Kirk Schuring and featured five Republicans and two Democrats. The group will work in the early parts of 2021 to decide whether to move forward with a sports betting bill.
With the limited opposition to legalized sports betting in Ohio, the committee should be able to get something down while it convenes.
“We are being left behind. Everyone around us is passing sports betting and capitalizing on the opportunity for folks to play. Those are resources that we can reinvest instead of Ohioans being forced to cross state borders and spend their money in other places,” said Rep. Brigid Kelly.
She was a co-sponsor on the 2020 sports betting bill passed through the House but never made it to the Senate floor. Although Kelly feels Ohio is being left behind in the sports betting industry, she does believe that the state will get a bill passed this year.
Operators Entering Ohio
There isn’t a timeline in place for Ohio sports betting to launch, but sports betting operators are not missing the opportunity to enter the state early to prepare.
Barstool Sportsbook, BetMGM, William Hill, WynnBet, and others will plan to receive licenses in the Buckeye State. Penn National (Barstool), Caesars (William Hill), and MGM (BetMGM) already operate gaming facilities in Ohio, which will allow for its betting partner to go live in the state. WynnBet also partnered with Penn to operate a sportsbook at one of Penn’s four locations.
Ohio has 11 gaming sites for sportsbooks to partner with. There is also a chance that the state allows operators to enter untethered, as seen in Tennessee and Virginia. Although Ohio keeps dropping the ball, there is a lot of hope that the state will have a bill finalized sometime this year.
The State Needs to Move
With Michigan going live with online sports betting last Friday, four of Ohio’s neighboring states have in-person and online sports betting available, making it more vital for Ohio to get a deal done this year.
Cities like Akron, Cincinnati, Dayton, Toledo, and Youngstown are all within an hour’s drive of a state that offers sports betting. The Buckeye State will continue to lose out on revenue if it’s unable to move quickly on a bill in 2021.
A lot of lawmakers are optimistic, including Gov. DeWine, that something will be done this year. Now, Ohio just needs to come up clutch and get the job done.