Sports betting remains a major topic of conversation in Ohio, but that conversation didn’t last long earlier this week. Senate Bill 176 had its first hearing earlier this week, but the only thing that was discussed was changes made to the current bill.
The Ohio Senate Select Committee on Gaming has been working on a sports betting bill since early February, and that group is now working to gain support for an official vote. The changes that were introduced on Wednesday were nothing major but instead focused on what groups could apply for each license.
Under this new proposal, casinos will now be allowed to apply for a Class B license if they choose to do so. These changes also laid out further restrictions for those properties that would be eligible to apply for a Class A license.
The tax rate and the initial cost of a license were not changed under the new proposal, as both parts of the bill could create a favorable market for operators.
It Could Create Massive Market
If the number of potential licenses remains unchanged in the final bill, then Ohio could turn into a massive sports betting market. SB 176 allows for 20 Class A licenses and 20 Class B licenses to be offered.
Current casinos and racetracks would be eligible to apply for a Class A license, while brick-and-mortar facilities can seek a Class B license. Class B licenses would allow for prop betting options only.
Another key piece of the current legislation is that any company that receives a Class A license is able to partner with an unlimited number of online sportsbooks. There is no other market in the United States that has rules such as these in place.
Sports Teams Have Avenue
The major professional sports teams in Ohio testified in front of the Ohio Senate Select Committee as they were looking to be included in the new industry. These professional sports teams will be allowed to apply for either a Class A or a Class B license to offer sports betting inside of their stadiums.
Ohio will look to professional sports teams to help drive the sports betting industry, and there are several options that should do just that. Football is king when it comes to sports betting, but other teams in the state will play a role as well.
July 1 Deadline in Place
Ohio is one of the few states that have its lawmakers in session throughout the entire year, although there are only select meeting dates that take place. It has been made clear that this decision is not going to drag out for long as lawmakers are hoping to have a final resolution in place by the end of June.
The next meeting date is set for May 19, but that date is only tentative. Lawmakers could choose to have another hearing on the bill before then, or it could be pushed back to allow for more internal discussion.
If the bill is approved by the end of June, then there is a chance that Ohio sports betting could launch at some point in 2021. The ultimate goal would be the start of the 2021 NFL season, but time is quickly running out.