Key Ohio Lawmakers Agree On Sports Betting Language To Set Up Passage

Written By Matthew Kredell on December 1, 2021 - Last Updated on January 10, 2022

Lead members of an Ohio conference committee agreed in principle on a sports betting bill Wednesday, according to Rep. Bill Seitz.

Seitz tells PlayOhio that he, Senate committee chair Kirk Schuring and House committee chair Jay Edwards agreed on changes to Ohio sports betting language to include in House Bill 29.

They then sent the language to the Legislative Service Commission to draft the final legislation.

Seitz expects the conference committee to meet next Wednesday to approve the conference committee report.

The legislative chambers could pass the bill as soon as that Dec. 8 date, when both the House and Senate meet. The House also is scheduled to meet Thursday (Dec. 9), while the Senate doesn’t convene again until the following Wednesday, its last session day of the year.

Resolution to skins issue

Seitz originally hoped to finish the sports betting legislation by Halloween. But the issue of a second online skin proved to be a sticking point.

The legislation passed by the Senate in May allowed for Ohio’s 11 casinos and racinos to offer two mobile sports betting skins. Ohio sports teams and entities, however, were limited to one skin.

Ohio’s sports teams and leagues sought to limit everyone to one skin, while casinos/racinos fought to keep their two.

According to Seitz, this was the resolution:

  • Both casinos/racinos and teams may seek a second skin.
  • The Ohio Casino Control Commission (OCCC) determines if an application for a second skin demonstrates an incremental benefit to the state. It also takes into consideration whether the second skin will prevent other licensees from getting partners.
  • If the OCCC determines a second skin is warranted, the second skin may start at market launch date with no delay.
  • Licensees must pay a premium to offer a second skin. The first skin costs $3 million over five years, with the second skin costing $10 million over five years.

Ohio sports betting legalization nears finish line

It’s been a long road to sports betting legalization in the Buckeye State.

Last year, House and Senate authors agreed on language for retail and online sports betting through Ohio’s legal casinos and racinos. But the Senate never really considered the bill.

This year, the Senate took the lead, with Schuring holding months of hearings in the Select Committee on Gaming.

The committee determined to go with a more inclusive route. Sports teams got direct participation through retail and online. And bars and restaurants that serve as lottery retailers get sports betting kiosks.

Although the Senate passed the bill, the House heard objections from casinos/racinos to sports teams receiving priority in licensing.

Seitz worked with Schuring to reach a compromise in June, leading to the Senate attaching sports betting language to HB 29, a bill on veterans ID cards. But the House balked at passing the bill at the last minute before summer break.

Instead, the chambers formed the conference committee in September.

The House and Senate cannot make changes to the conference report expected to be approved by the committee next week. The chambers can only vote the conference report up or down.

When the current sports betting bill passed the Senate in June, the hope was to launch in the Buckeye State in early spring of 2022. Seitz says the new language requires the OCCC to issue licenses no later than Jan. 1, 2023. They can be issued earlier at the OCCC’s discretion.

If the chambers approve the report as expected, HB 29 goes to Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, who has long called for the legislature to put sports betting legislation on his desk.

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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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