Election Deals Setback To Ohio Sports Betting Legalization Effort

The 2020 election saw sports betting legalized in three new states, but it also threw up a roadblock in Ohio.

The early results out of Ohio suggest three key sports betting sponsors will not be back in 2021.

Rep. Dave Greenspan and Sen. Sean O’Brien lost their respective races Tuesday night, while Sen. John Eklund will be termed out.

It means the Ohio legislature must pass its existing sports betting bills in the lame-duck session in November and December, or be forced to start again with a new bill and sponsors next year.

Hurdles for Ohio sports betting

The current bill faces some challenges, notably opposition from Senate President Larry Obhof, who sets the Senate agenda.

Dan Dodd, VP of Government Relations at ZHF Consulting, also noted the rising number of COVID-19 cases in Ohio could limit the amount of time lawmakers are actually in session

“It’s unknown how much they’ll be meeting,” Dodd told LSR. “If it moves to next session, you could be looking at starting all over again despite all the good work that has been done.”

Despite the potential setback, Dodd was confident new sponsors would emerge and there would be new bills next year.

“The governor has said repeatedly that sports betting in Ohio is inevitable,” Dodd said. “People will pick up the flag and move forward next session. I just don’t know who they will be yet.”

Current OH sports betting bill not dead

In the meantime, there is still a chance the existing bill passes.

The latest draft of HB 194, revealed this week, cut the number of OH sports betting licenses to two for each casino and racino operator in the state. That’s down from three in the previous version from September, to a total of 22.

Otherwise, the bill is fairly operator-friendly, including:

  • An 8% tax rate.
  • $100,000 fee for a five-year license for casinos and racinos.
  • No official league data mandate.

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