Ohio Hoping To Legalize Sports Betting By End of 2021

Ohio lawmakers hoping to legalize sports betting after the end of summer break
Lawmakers attempted to push legalization before the June 30 budget deadline, but ultimately ran out of time
A coalition of local sports teams continues to push for legalization

Ohio lawmakers have been actively trying to pass legislation that would legalize sports betting for months. Republican Governor Mike DeWine has gone on the record saying he is in favor of legal sports betting. Now, it’s up to those lawmakers to agree on the details.

Sports betting is expected to be a hot topic among lawmakers once they return from their summer break. The state’s congress did just get its budget bill signed into law ahead of the June 30 deadline. Before the bill was passed, the Ohio Senate made one more last-ditch effort to pass legalized sports betting.

However, House Speaker Bob Cupp said toward the end of June that getting that done before the deadline would be an “extremely high lift.” Cupp said, “Would I like to do it? Sure, but I would like to have it go through committee, have hearings, and that sort of thing, as well.”

SB176 has been under construction for months. The Senate has been working on that bill, which would allow for legalized sports betting as well as expanded access to other casino games, including e-bingo, within the state. A group of Ohio’s pro sports franchises, including the Cleveland Browns, Cincinnati Bengals, and Cleveland Cavaliers, has been actively pushing for legalization, too.

Neighboring States Enjoying Legalization

Lawmakers in Ohio are eager to open up an industry with most neighboring states already having done so. Gov. DeWine said earlier this year that illegal sports betting is already a big industry within the state, and it’s time to bring it out from the shadows. Kentucky is the only state bordering Ohio that does not yet have a legalized sports betting industry.

Neighboring Michigan, Indiana, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania have all opened industries of their own in recent years. Back in 2018, states were given the green light to do so when the US Supreme Court struck down the federal ban on sports betting. Since then, more than 20 states and Washington DC have taken advantage.

Curt Steiner, the spokesperson for the coalition of pro sports teams pushing for legalization, said, “I wouldn’t call this a crisis, it’s just a missed opportunity for Ohio. I think the legislature realizes it, the legislature, I believe, wanted to get it done at the end of June, they just ran out of time.”

The plan under consideration in the Senate calls for the creation of three different types of licenses. A Type A license will allow for betting through mobile devices, a Type B license will allow for in-person betting, and a Type C license will allow for in-person betting at self-service kiosks. A bill under consideration in the House of Representatives will allow for up to 25 Type A licenses to be distributed to operators. 40 Type B licenses would be up for grabs, in addition to 20 Type C licenses. The similar bill in the Senate, however, would allow for only 33 Type B licenses.