Lawmakers in the state of Ohio have decided to introduce new legislation to legalize sports betting. The new bill introduced in the House would allow players to place in-person wagers at casinos and racinos of the state.
Fraternal and veterans’ organizations will also be allowed to offer services if the sports betting bill is signed into law. A competing measure went before the Senate in March.
Bill flexible to allow changes
Representatives Dave Greenspan and Brigid Kelly worked together to introduce the new bill in Ohio. The bill was created based on the legislation passed into law last year in West Virginia. According to Greenspan, the new sports betting bill does not cover online or mobile wagering. However, it is flexible to allow lawmakers to make changes if needed.
The bill would create a 10% tax on sports bets. The organization offering the wagering options would receive some of the proceeds to cover the cost of operations. A small percentage of the proceeds will go towards programs focusing on gambling addiction. A percentage will also go towards education needs.
To offer sports betting, a casino or racino must pay a license fee of $100,000 (€88,679). They would also have to pay an annual renewal fee. Veterans and fraternal organizations will only have to pay an annual fee of just $1,000 (€886).
It has been estimated that as much as $30m (€26.6m) will be generated annually for the state via sports betting. With online gambling added in the mix, Greenspan feels that this number would be even larger.
To oversee the new industry via the House bill, an 11-member group titled the Sports Gaming Advisory Board will be created. The new group will recommend regulations for the new industry to the Lottery Commission for the three-year time frame. Greenspan said:
“What we’re doing with this bill is taking sports gaming out of the shadows and providing consumer protections.”
Competing senate bill
In March, the Senate introduced a bill that would also legalize sports betting. The competing measure would place the Ohio Casino Control Commission in charge of regulating the new industry. Senators John Eklund and Sean O’Brien introduced the bill.
The bill would see casinos and racinos paying a $10,000 fee along with $100,000 every five years thereafter. Operators would pay a 6.25% tax on gross gaming revenues from wagers. The measure has yet to be heard in committee.
The House and Senate bills differ in a variety of ways, mainly on who would be in charge of regulating and overseeing sports betting. So far, lawmakers seem to be split as to where they stand on the issue.Eklund said:
“I cannot envision a single advantage that the Lottery Commission has in regulating sports gaming that the Casino Commission doesn’t have. I think there is a palpable difference between the games that the Lottery Commission is responsible for now and something like sports gaming. I think sports gaming is on a significantly more sophisticated level.”
Other lawmakers, like Senate President Larry Obhof, feel that the constitution needs an amendment in order to legalize sports betting. It is possible that an amendment may be placed on the state ballot at a future date in order to move forward, based on what lawmakers decide.