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'You Have to be Patient': Ohio Lawmakers Settle Disagreements, Finally Pass Sports Betting Bill

The bill will now head to the desk of Gov. Mike DeWine, who has spoken in the past about the inevitability of Ohio legalizing sports betting.
Published By Covers on December 9, 2021
Jay Edwards In The News

The Ohio legislature has given its final approval to a bill that will legalize and regulate sports betting in the Buckeye State if and when Gov. Mike DeWine puts his signature to the legislation. 

Lawmakers on Wednesday finally settled their differences of opinion around House Bill 29, as a committee formed to resolve those disagreements produced a report about the sports betting-related measure. A majority in both the state’s House of Representatives and Senate then agreed to the conference committee's report.

H.B. 29 will now eventually head to DeWine’s desk, where it can be signed into law or vetoed by the governor. However, it seems likely the bill will be approved, as the bill is coming from a Republican-controlled legislature and is going to a Republican executive who has talked of the inevitability of legal sports betting in his state. 

“It's coming to Ohio,” DeWine said earlier this year.

Wednesday's approval was the culmination of a months-long process by Ohio lawmakers. It also means the seventh-most populous state in the U.S. is now nearer than ever to launching legal sports betting, which is likely to attract several major sportsbook operators. 

Neighboring states such as Michigan have legalized sports betting as well, and Ohio politicians have acknowledged publicly that residents of their state are likely wagering already through out-of-state, offshore, or illegal sportsbooks.

“Make no mistake about it, illegal betting is taking place in the state of Ohio right now,” Rep. Jay Edwards said Wednesday. “This bill is to regulate illegal betting, but also to allow the opportunity for Ohio businesses to thrive … to secure Ohio jobs, and to help out Ohio schools.” 

'You have to be patient'

H.B. 29 would make sports betting legal in Ohio and put it under the oversight of the state’s Casino Control Commission. 

Rep. Bill Seitz said Wednesday the legislation now provides for 25 online sports betting licenses. Preference would be given to professional sports organizations and the state’s casinos and “racinos,” which are racetracks with gambling facilities. The online licensees will also be able to partner with sportsbook operators for their “skins,” the individually branded, consumer-facing websites and apps.

There are also up to 42 licenses for brick-and-mortar sportsbooks, Seitz said, most of which would likely be located at the casinos, racinos, and professional sports venues. There is also a third class of license that would allow bars, restaurants, or bowling alleys with permits for on-premise liquor drinking to have up to two sports-betting kiosks.

“This represented a lot of give and take, a lot of compromise, a lot of wrangling over seemingly innocuous words, but that's how it is with complex legislation, you have to be patient,” Seitz said.

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