How The Ohio Conference Committee For Sports Betting Legislation Will Unfold

Written By Matthew Kredell on October 13, 2021

Conference committee members are out in Ohio, but that doesn’t mean the committee will meet right away.

In fact, by the time the recently-named conference committee meets to finalize sports betting language, negotiations might be just about over.

Rep. Bill Seitz, one of the key members of the conference committee, spoke to PlayOhio about what to expect in the stretch run of legalizing sports betting in the Buckeye State.

Timeline for completing Ohio sports betting legislation

Seitz provided a step-by-step explanation of how Ohio’s sports wagering bill will reach the finish line.

  1. He finishes compiling a list of potential amendments to the sports betting language in H 29.
  2. Seitz meets with Sen. Kirk Schuring to make sure the list of amendments is complete and see if they can agree on language.
  3. The lawmakers check with the Ohio Casino Control Commission, Lottery Commission and Governor’s Office to see if there are any changes they want in the bill.
  4. Schuring and Seitz informally make sure their fellow conferees are on board with the language.
  5. With the language complete and approval obtained from all relevant parties, the lawmakers convene the conference committee and pass their report.
  6. The conference report goes in front of the House and Senate, which can only vote it up or down without changes. They almost certainly would pass the report.
  7. H 29 passes and heads to Gov. Mike DeWine for final approval.

Seitz previously told PlayOhio that he hoped to finish Ohio sports betting legislation by Oct. 31.

“My objective is if we don’t get done by Halloween, I’m going to turn into a pumpkin,” Seitz said.

Starting point for Ohio conference committee

Legislative leaders tasked the conference committee with reaching a consensus on language for H 29. The legislation started as a veterans ID bill passed by the House in March.

The Senate then added sports betting language to the bill that same month. The language marked a compromise worked out between Schuring and Seitz as one last attempt to pass sports betting legislation before the summer break.

Schuring previously led the Select Committee on Gaming for four months as it crafted S 176. The Senate passed the legislation, but the House had many concerns with industry-unfriendly language.

Key details of H 29 as it enters conference committee include:

  • Casinos/racinos join sports teams in receiving preferred standing for licenses.
  • Permits 25 Type A mobile sports wagering licenses and 40 Type B brick-and-mortar licenses.
  • Casinos/racinos can have two mobile skins from launch; sports teams one mobile skin.
  • Counties with more than 800,000 people can have five retail sportsbooks, at least 400,000 get three sportsbooks, and at least 100,000 get one.
  • Sports wagering is allowed on professionalinternational/Olympic, and college sports, esports and horse racing.
  • A Type C license allows two sports betting kiosks at restaurants and bars that hold a liquor license. It limits wager amounts to $200 a day and bet types to spreadsmoneyline and over/under.

Two old friends lead sports betting negotiations

One reason for optimism that lawmakers complete sports betting legislation this session is the obvious camaraderie between Schuring and Seitz.

Seitz is taking the pre-lead in negotiating legislation with the Senate because he previously served in the Senate for nine years. In going back and forth between the House and Senate as long-time Ohio legislators, Schuring and Seitz spent four years as colleagues in the Senate and five years in the House.

That’s why when Schuring and Senate President Matt Huffman wanted to get sports betting done before the summer break, they went to Seitz. An informal meeting over dinner led to the sports betting language in H 29 as passed by the Senate.

The Senate leaders hoped that Seitz, the House Majority Leader, could bring his chamber on board. But they wanted more time to review the legislation fully.

Seitz technically doesn’t chair the committee. The House Speaker gave that honor to Rep. Jay Edwards, who has been working on sports betting legislation longer. Other members of the six-legislator committee are Sens. Nathan Manning and Cecil Thomas, and Rep. Adam Miller.

Photo by AP / Kevork Djansezian
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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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