Competing Ohio Sports Betting Bills Could Slow Down Progress In The Buckeye State

Posted on January 21, 2020

As the Blue Öyster Cult admonished, Indiana sportsbooks shouldn’t “fear the reaper.” In this case, the “reaper” is legal Ohio sports betting.

The process of legalization in the Buckeye State has hit a snag. There’s no telling right now how long the delay will last as well.

What’s the holdup on Ohio sports betting legalization?

Four of the five states that border Ohio have legal sports wagering. As the Buckeye State tries to be they like are, there are differences of opinion on what that should look like.

The bill in the state’s House calls for the state’s lottery to regulate the activity. The Senate bill, on the other hand, puts the state’s gaming commission in power.

While it’s possible for both parties to get in on the action, the stakes on who runs the show are high. It’s the difference between which businesses in Ohio could get cut in.

Senate and House beach have different Ohio sports betting plans

Casinos back the Senate bill, as they have an inside track with the commission. On the other hand, the lottery track would let other businesses like bars and restaurants play along.

That isn’t the only point of differentiation between the two bills, however. The House bill’s tax rate is 10%, while the Senate document pegs that rate at 6.25%.

It doesn’t look like a compromise is on the horizon right now. Ohio State House Speaker Larry Householder recently said he believes the Senate is committed to the casino model.

At the same time, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine seems to have no interest in putting his weight behind pressing the issue. He simply says there are issues that the state has to resolve.

Currently, there are no hearings on either bill scheduled. Until that’s done, neither bill will see any action.

Even when the legislature starts to move, there’s no guarantee that the process will move along quickly or ultimately prove successful.  For Indiana casinos and sportsbooks, there is nothing but good news here.

Indiana extends its sports betting lead in the region

Last month’s revenue report shows why Indiana sportsbooks prefer things to stay as they are. In December 2019, Hollywood Lawrenceburg fared quite well.

Lawrenceburg is the closest casino with a legal Indiana sportsbook to the Cincinnati metro area. Last month the Hollywood took in more retail action than all but one of the brick-and-mortar sportsbooks in Indiana.

While Hollywood likely sees some action from Kentucky residents as well, there’s no good news for the casino if Ohioans can place legal bets without having to leave their state of residence.

What the two Ohio bills have in common could greatly affect handle in Indiana. Both bills would authorize online wagering and opposition to that from the greater community is minimal.

Until the Ohio legislature schedules hearings on its bills though, there’s no reason to fear. The door to see more action from Ohioans is still open.

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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is a freelance journalist who resides in Kansas City, Mo. He is a 2013 graduate of the University of Iowa and covers the intersections of sports with business and the law.

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