Ohio Legislature Names Conferees To Finalize Sports Betting Legislation

Written By Matthew Kredell on October 7, 2021

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.

Back in June, the Senate attached sports betting language to a veterans ID bill and sent it back to the House for concurrence. But the House opted not to concur on H 29 before the summer break.

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.

Photo by AP / Michael Conroy
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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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