Ohio lawmakers took an important step toward sports betting legalization that could get a bill passed by Halloween.
The House and Senate announced the conferees who will meet in the coming weeks to negotiate the final details of Ohio sports betting.
That set the stage for each chamber to pick three members to serve on a conference committee to work out the language in the bill.
Initially, there was a thought that the conference committee could begin work over the summer. But legislative leaders decided to wait until after the session resumed in the fall.
Lawmakers who will decide Ohio sports betting language
House Speaker Bob Cupp and Senate President Matt Huffman each chose three members to serve on the conference committee. One member on each side must be from the minority, Democrat, party.
Here are the lawmakers chosen for the committee and their experience with this issue:
- Sen. Kirk Schuring: The House Majority Leader chaired the Select Committee on Gaming that met for four months to draft the initial Senate sports betting legislation.
- Sen. Nathan Manning: Worked closely with Schuring on that committee and was listed as co-author of S 176.
- Sen. Cecil Thomas: Democrat who served on the Select Committee on Gaming.
- Rep. Jay Edwards: Met with stakeholders earlier this year in a series of meetings with the thought to craft a House sports betting bill.
- Rep. Bill Seitz: Met with Schuring to come up with the language that appears in H 29 as a way to try to get House support for sports betting
- Rep. Adam Miller: This one is a bit of a surprise as Miller doesn’t have previous experience on sports betting. He was apparently included as the minority-party representative because he co-sponsored the original iteration of H 29 as a veterans ID bill.
Schuring and Edwards will serve as conference committee chairs.
What’s next for Ohio sports betting efforts
Although the conference committee only just formed, some members of the committee have been discussing the sports betting legislation for a while. Schuring told PlayOhio that there wasn’t a week this summer that he didn’t have discussions on sports betting.
“We will be expecting to get down to business in the near future,” Rep. Seitz told PlayOhio. “Over the summer, Sen. Schuring, Rep. Edwards, Rep. (Brigid) Kelly and I have quietly done some talking to identify issues, so some of the preliminary work has already been done.”
Usually the House and Senate differences on a bill are clear, as they each passed legislation on the topic. In this case, there isn’t a blueprint for what the House wants in a bill. The H 29 as passed by the House had nothing to do with sports betting. And the House hasn’t introduced sports betting legislation this session.
The House did pass a sports betting bill last year that was much smaller in scope, limiting sports betting to casinos and racinos.
The conference committee eventually will produce a conference report with recommended changes to the bill. Each chamber can vote to accept those changes and send the bill to the governor’s desk. Chambers don’t typically reject recommendations made by their chosen conferees.
“My objective is if we don’t get done by Halloween, I’m going to turn into a pumpkin,” Seitz said.