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Sports betting bill introduced in Ohio Senate, Schuring Hopes for Quick Passage

Published: May 7, 2021, 05: 59 hrs.

Last updated: May 7, 2021, 12: 06 h.

Steve Bittenbender

Ohio lawmakers unveiled their latest attempt at a sports betting bill Thursday, hoping to fast track it through the state legislature.

Ohio sports betting
Ohio Senate Majority Leader Kirk Schuring is holding a news conference Thursday to discuss details of the sports betting and expanded gaming bill the chamber will consider. He and other supporters of the measure hope to have it done by the end of June. (Photo: The Ohio Channel )

That leaves a few key details that lawmakers have yet to develop. But a key legislative leader said he hopes it will be over before lawmakers head off for summer recess.

There will be other versions of the project ", Senate Majority Leader Kirk Schuring, R-Canton , said. "But we want to get it done before the end of June. We think it's time for us to take action. "

Although Schuring is not the lead sponsor of Senate Bill 176, he is the chairman of the Gaming Committee. That panel took testimony from the gaming industry and other stakeholders over a two-month period through March.

Schuring then met with other committee members over the past month to work out the details of the proposed legislation. He had a list of more than 200 items assembled before meeting with Senate President Matt Huffman, R-Lima, to begin putting the skeleton together.

A meeting of that committee is scheduled for Wednesday. That, however, awaits the bill's official referral to committee.

Type A for casinos, online operators

As it stands, Ohio would offer up to 40 sports betting licenses. It could offer up to 20 Type A licenses for online sports betting and 20 Type B licenses for traditional betting.

As it happens, Ohio has 11 casinos and a racino. In addition, eight professional sports teams in the state and the PGA Tour have joined forces to lobby lawmakers for access to licensing. While those numbers add up to 20, it doesn't appear - at least for now - that lawmakers intend to license only those companies.

Note A licenses would likely be for state casino operators, Schuring added that any other company willing to put up the money to take bets would be able to apply for a license.

"We believe in the free market," he said. "So, if there's another entity right now, despite these 11 (casinos) that we're talking about, who can come up with the money to finance a bet, come to Ohio. "

Dan Dodd, a former Ohio state legislator who represents the online gaming industry trade group iDevelopment and Economic Association (iDEA), said Casino.org On Thursday, he hoped the bill would include more than 20 online licenses.

He said many casino companies have entered into skin agreements with multiple online sports betting operators, with the expectation that the casino licensees would act as the primary license holder.

So I think there are definitely more than 20 companies that are interested and if we want to have a free market, I think so they should make sure that those who want to enter the market have that opportunity " Dodd, vice president of government affairs at ZHF Consulting, said.

As Schuring noted, he expects the regulations to change. That leaves the possibility of changing the number of licenses.

Type B for retail operators

Interestingly, the current B-license language seems to discourage casinos from implementing them.

Traditional sports betting would not be allowed in casinos or at horse races, according to an analysis of bills from the Office of Research and Preparation of the Ohio Legislative Budget Office. Casinos could still be licensed, but would have to build a separate facility.

A more likely target for a Type B license would be the state's major professional sports teams, Schuring said. He also believes retail stores would create jobs.

We think it will be an economic development tool for Ohio, "he said. "In fact, we will say in the draft that one of the criteria for granting one of these licenses is to demonstrate economic development."

Both types of licenses will cost $1 million for three years. No entity may hold more than five Type A licenses or five Type B licenses.

The state would tax license holders of both types at 10 percent of their net income.

Ohio Lottery in play

However, that's not all when it comes to sports betting in Ohio. The bill also includes a pari-mutuel product that the state lottery could offer. This seems to be the answer for representatives of the state's bowling alley and industry associations. Both of these groups have stated that their members want to offer sports betting as well.

For $ 20, players could choose the outcome of an event or series of events. The state lottery commission would take a percentage of each ticket. Holders of the winning ticket would split the remainder equally.

In the example given in the analysis, 1, 000 people picked the winner in the NFL game between the Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers. Of the $ 20, 000, the lottery took 10 percent, or $ 18, 04 would be up for grabs. If the 200 people who picked the Browns won, they would receive $ 90, a net profit of 70. If the 800 people picking Pittsburgh were right, they would take home $ 22. 50, a net profit of $2. 50.

House, Senate Joint Meeting Sports betting

This isn't the first time the Ohio legislature has discussed sports betting. Last year, the bill cleared the House of Representatives with a strong lead. But it never gained popularity in the Senate, where there was a competing bill with different language. One major problem was that the House required the Ohio Lottery Commission to manage sports betting. Senators wanted the Casino Control Commission to oversee it.

When the session ended in December, it meant lawmakers had to start over. Thus, the Senate Gaming Committee was formed. The committee is also charged with legalizing e-Bingo and is considering iLottery. However, most of the attention on the committee has been focused on its sports betting activities.

There also now seems to be common ground between the chambers when it comes to sports betting.

House Speaker Bob Cupp (R-Lima) said The Statehouse News Bureau that his chamber is also working on a bill. But there is one key difference in what is likely to come out of the House this year.

"I think a general consensus is forming that the Casino Control Commission may be the appropriate body, but that wouldn't prevent from possibly signing an agreement with the Lottery Commission to do some things, "Cupp said.

How Can Ohio Pass Sports Betting Through June

Dodd, who served two terms as a state representative, shed some light on how lawmakers can get a bill through the legislature quickly.

He said the Senate is likely to hold hearings on the bill. But instead of making a case, senators can take the House of Representatives bill that is already in the Senate and add it as an amendment.

After passing the Senate, it would return to the House for a vote on an amendment - in this case, the language of the sports betting bill. If the House agrees, the bill goes to Governor Mike DeWine for his signature.

If the House disagrees, then the two chambers would have to work out their differences in a conference committee.

"I would expect the House of Representatives and the Senate to negotiate amendments before they are introduced in the bill to avoid a conference committee, "said Dodd.

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