Casino Control Commission Asks Legislature For Extension On Sportsbook Licensing Deadlines

Posted By Matthew Kredell on August 25, 2021

Legislative delays could push the Ohio sports betting timeline past the start of the 2022 NFL season.

The Ohio Casino Control Commission (OCCC) asked the legislature to extend deadlines for issuing licenses.

This request was part of a list of comments and suggestions for amendments to H 29 sent to legislative leaders. The OCCC provided a copy to PlayOhio. You can read those here.

In the bill passed by the Senate in late June, the OCCC must begin accepting applications for sports wagering licenses by Jan. 1, 2022. Then it shall award those licenses no later than April 1.

The OCCC asked to change those requirements to accepting applications within six months of the effective date of the act. And beginning to award licenses within 10 months.

Since there’s a 90-day window for the act to take effect, this could take the launch date for Ohio sports betting into late 2022.

Why the delay may or may not be necessary

When the Senate passed H 29, backers hoped the House would concur before taking summer recess on June 30. That didn’t happen.

Now the first opportunity to pass the bill will be after the House returns to session Sept. 15.

The OCCC commented on the change:

The dates in this section were proposed when the bill was being contemplated for a June 30, 2021 passage. As such, the Commission is suggesting the specific dates in this section be replaced with a timetable that is in line with the timing previously contemplated.

That doesn’t necessarily mean the OCCC will need a full 10 months to award licenses.

Deputy executive director Rick Anthony previously told PlayOhio that he thought the OCCC could complete the process in six months. That could make the original deadline still in play.

But it’s better to error on the side of having more time than needed. Especially since there’s no guarantee the legislature passes the bill as soon as it returns.

Other OCCC sports wagering suggested changes

The Ohio Casino Control Commission requested 22 changes to H 29 in total.

Highlights include:

  • Strengthen requirements of Type A mobile wagering licensees to have a place of business in the state. Ensure the place of business is operational and regularly maintains employees.
  • Apply the economic development factors for Type A mobile wagering licensees to Type B brick-and-mortar and Type C restaurant/bar proprietors.
  • Remove instruction for OCCC to create minimum requirements for capital investment in Type B brick-and-mortar licensees. Using previous suggestion, instead allow Commission to evaluate economic development factors without any one-size-fits-all minimums.
  • Change the definition of proposition bet to mean “a wager on whether an identified instance or statistical achievement will occur, will be achieved, or will be surpassed, other than the score or outcome of the sporting event or parts of the sporting event, such as quarters, halves, periods, or innings.” Well, that sure simplifies it.
  • Recommends that current participants in the state’s voluntary exclusion programs not automatically receive that status for sports betting.
  • Allow the Commission the ability to issue emergency orders to ensure the integrity of sports betting. This could include emergency suspension of licenses.
  • Removes criminal background checks and suitability investigations for bars and restaurants with sports betting kiosks.
  • Require sports gaming proprietors to submit audit of information technology systems and security protocols prepared by an independent third party.

Where Ohio sports betting negotiations stand

Sports betting language in H 29 already has been negotiated by leaders of the Senate and the third-ranking member of the House.

When the House opted not to concur before recessing, Speaker Bob Cupp pledged that lawmakers would work on finalizing language over the summer.

However, with only two weeks until the Senate comes back and three weeks for the House, there seems to be little-to-no progress.

As of this week, lawmakers tell PlayOhio that legislative leaders from each chamber still haven’t named conferees to negotiate the bill.

This lack of urgency from the legislature could make the licensing date changes suggested by the OCCC more necessary.

Photo by AP / Brian Woolston
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Matthew Kredell

Matthew has covered efforts to legalize and regulate online gambling since 2007. His reporting on the legalization of sports betting began in 2010 with an article for Playboy Magazine on how the NFL was pushing US money overseas by fighting the expansion of regulated sports betting. A USC journalism alum, Matt started his career as a sportswriter at the Los Angeles Daily News and has written on a variety of topics for Playboy, Men’s Journal, Los Angeles magazine, LA Weekly and ESPN.com.

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