After a long and difficult journey, the Ohio legislature should unveil a sports betting bill at the end of April. The Ohio Senate Select Committee on Gaming spent more than two months reviewing sports betting, and the committee is now ready to deliver a final bill.
The Ohio state legislature is not currently in session, but they will soon return from a two-week break. Sports betting will be one of the most important topics to discuss when lawmakers return, and there is real pressure to get something done soon.
Governor Mike DeWine has made it clear that he believes Ohio will legalize sports betting at some point in 2021, but that appears less than a certainty at this point. Getting through the committee was an important step, but it doesn’t seem like anything is set in stone.
Most industry experts believed that 2020 would be the year for sports betting in Ohio, but lawmakers failed to act in time. Both the House of Representative and Senate have different opinions on how the industry should operate, and reaching an agreement has proved difficult.
Ohio State Racing Commission To Take Charge?
On the final day of hearing in the Senate Select Committee, one witness expressed a belief that the Ohio State Racing Commission should be the regulatory body. This came from Renee Mancino, a top executive in various horse racing organizations.
This belief would add another layer to the current debate about which group should oversee sports betting. The Ohio Lottery Commission has been the top choice, but there has also been some support for the Ohio Casino Control Commission.
Everyone Wants In on the Action
Another reason for the delay in passing sports betting legislation is that several groups want in on the action. The Ohio Lottery Commission has made it clear that it wants ultimate control, and it will likely end up being the governing body.
The current casinos in Ohio want to control the industry on their own or at least limit the number of available sports betting licenses. Professional sports teams in the state are also hoping to be approved to offer either retail or online sports betting at their stadiums.
Ohio Surrounded By Sports Betting
One thing is clear: Ohio is losing out on some significant revenue as the launch of sports betting continues to be delayed. Several neighboring states have already launched sports betting, and some of those markets have seen substantial growth in recent months.
Indiana has been one of the leaders in the Midwest since a launch in 2019, and Michigan has come on strong to begin 2021. Michigan just recently launched online sports betting, and that state could become a serious player in the United States sports betting market.
With two MLB teams, two NFL teams, an NBA team, and an NHL team in the state, legalizing sports betting in Ohio just makes sense.