Ohio Sports Betting Bill Steams To Life And Moves Through The House

Posted on May 28, 2020

Ohio is one step closer to statewide sports betting.

The state’s House of Representatives approved a sports betting bill, which is now headed to Ohio’s Senate. The hope is to land it on Gov. Mike DeWine’s desk by this fall.

After months of a standstill, the bill finally moved out of committee on May 27. The House moved quickly to vote on the bill, approving it 83-10 the very next day.

Sports betting progress has been slow in the Buckeye State, but things are finally moving again. However, there are still a few more hurdles to get across before sports betting will become legal in Ohio.

Ohio has a second sports betting bill out there

The House bill still has some competition coming from the state Senate. The Senate is still considering a different bill that’s been going head-to-head with the House’s plans.

So what’s the difference between the two bills? It basically has to do with where the sports betting tax revenue would go.

Under the House bill, sports betting would be taxed at a 10% rate. The tax revenue would go towards grade school education. The Ohio Lottery Commission would regulate the industry.

The Senate bill has a different plan in mind. With a lower tax rate at 6.25%, the Senate bill would send the money to Ohio’s general revenue fund, which pays for the state’s day-day operations. The Ohio Casino Control Commission would oversee the industry.

For the sake of comparison, Indiana has a 9.5% tax rate, and the Indiana Gaming Commission regulates things. The Senate bill would give Ohio a similar setup to Indiana, since both states would have the same regulators govern both its casinos and sports betting operators.

The debate between the two bills has been going on for over a year. Up until now, there hadn’t been a hearing on either of the bills since November.

Back in May 2019, Gov. DeWine met with the sponsors of both bills. After hearing pitches from both sides, he threw his support behind part of the Senate’s plan.

However, since then, DeWine has been reluctant to get more involved. Progress has been locked up and things have been slow-moving, to say the least.

Now that the House bill has finally been passed, it may be able to elbow its way through the state’s Senate. Negotiations will likely take place in the coming weeks.

Ohio will chip away at Indiana’s Midwest advantage

Since sports betting started in the Hoosier State last fall, Indiana has become one of the largest markets in the country.

The lack of competition from its neighbors has certainly been helpful.

Up until recently, Indiana was the only state in the Midwest that was taking legal sports wagers. That gave it a huge advantage since visitors from the surrounding states had to come to Indiana to place their bets.

Now, Michigan and Illinois are finally taking bets. Or at least they were until COVID-19 shut down casinos around the country.

However, Michigan and Illinois are only taking bets at brick-and-mortar casinos for now. There’s no mobile or online betting in either state yet.

That will change eventually, but, for the time being, that keeps a big part of Indiana’s advantage intact.

Residents from other states can cross the border into Indiana to place bets with any of the state’s online sportsbooks. That’s an easy trip for those living nearby the border.

Until those Michigan and Illinois residents can start betting from the couch at home, Indiana will continue to enjoy that extra business from them.

Ohio and Kentucky are the last two Indiana neighbors that don’t have sports betting in place yet.

Ohio’s progress is a reminder that Indiana’s advantage won’t last forever. The more accessible sports betting becomes in the rest of the Midwest, the fewer out-of-state residents will come to Indiana for sports betting.

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Jake Garza

Jake Garza is a sports writer based in Indianapolis, IN. He's an Indiana University graduate who's spent time as a sports reporter covering teams at the prep, collegiate and professional levels.

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