Progress For Ohio Sports Betting Bill Unlikely Before Summer Break

Written By Matthew Kredell on June 23, 2021

The Ohio sports betting bill was sent Tuesday to the House Finance Committee, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the House will take up the legislation before summer break.

In fact, it seems likely that the House will wait until the fall to vote on the bill.

“I think June 30 is likely too ambitious,” Rep. Brigid Kelly said. “We should take the time necessary to thoroughly vet this bill and this complex issue.”

The Finance Committee is familiar with the issue. The committee advanced a sports betting bill last year before it passed in the House.

Kelly was a co-sponsor of that bill and sits on the committee.

House Speaker supports sports betting legalization

House Speaker Bob Cupp previously said that “the goal of getting sports betting done before we recess for the summer is a high priority.”

But that was in early May, long before the Senate sent over a 266-page bill. In advancing the bill from the Senate committee, Sen. Kirk Schuring also said he hoped to get it to the House in time to pass the bill before the end of the month.

But Ohio’s own casino/racino industry has real issues with the legislation, which could take added time to work out in the House and gain acceptance from the Senate.

In response to a query from PlayOhio, Cupp’s office sent the following:

“At this time, Speaker Cupp and his policy staff are reviewing SB 176 in its entirety to determine the best path to advancing this legislation. Speaker Cupp supports the legalization of sports betting but wants to make sure the legislation put forth is sound and fair for all Ohioans.”

Budget discussions dominate final days before break

Retail and online sports betting in Ohio obviously is a high-priority issue in the state. The Senate select committee met weekly for more than four months before crafting the bill.

But Ohio legislators have a more pressing issue. They need to get a two-year budget on the governor’s desk by July 1 or face a government shutdown.

Scott Oelslager, chair of the House Finance Committee, also chairs the conference committee working out the budget details.

If the House goes beyond June 30 before recessing, it will only be to finish up the budget. The Ohio legislature returns in September and goes to the end of the calendar year.

Even if the legislature did reach an agreement on sports betting before taking its summer break, wagering wouldn’t launch by the NFL season. The bill passed by the House specifies that license applications can’t be accepted until Jan. 1, with the Casino Control Commission beginning to award licenses by April 1.

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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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