Time To Move: Ohio Sports Betting Substitute Bill Accepted With Time Running Out

Written By Matthew Kredell on December 9, 2020 - Last Updated on July 26, 2022

Ohio sports betting legislation is finally ready to move.

The Senate General Government Agency Review Committee accepted the long-awaited substitute for S 111 on Tuesday.

Sen. John Eklund, sponsor of the bill, told PlayOhio he is confident the committee will pass the bill this week or next.

The sports betting bill would then need to pass on the Senate floor and get approval in the House before the legislature breaks for the year.

If Ohio doesn’t pass sports betting legislation in 2020, the effort will need to start over with new sponsors next year.

Few changes in final Ohio sports betting substitute

Eklund outlined many of the changes in the latest substitute draft last week at a committee hearing.

On Tuesday, he corrected his description from that hearing on the license fees. The substitute sets the fees at a total of $200,000 and not for both the application and license.

The most significant change decreases the skins from two to one, which Eklund indicated gives the bill the best chance to pass in the Senate.

Highlights of the substitute bill include:

  • Authorizes sports betting for the 11 licensed casinos and racinos
  • Sets the Ohio Casino Control Commission as regulator
  • Licenses to offer sports betting cost $200,000 every three years ($100,000 application, $100,000 license fee)
  • Management service providers pay another $100,000 every three years ($50,000 application, $50,000 license fee)
  • 8% tax on sports gaming receipts
  • 2% of tax revenue goes to problem gambling, 98% to education
  • Each sports betting licensee may offer one online gaming app

Disjointed process not instilling confidence

Penn National Gaming submitted the only proponent testimony for the substitute. Others chose not to submit testimony for a proposal they hadn’t seen.

The last draft they saw dated Oct. 30. However, it turned out that very few changes were made in more than a month, most notably the skins.

“We’d prefer multiple skins but time is running out and we think it’s best to try to maintain momentum in the waning days of session,” PNG’s Eric Schippers told PlayOhio.

Industry representatives made a number of suggestions at the first committee hearing of the lame-duck session.

The only ones implemented had to do with server placement and ownership. Servers no longer are required to be located at the casino. They can also be in “another secure facility in this state that has been approved by the commission.” Also removed was a stipulation that casinos need to own their servers.

Adding the substitute to S 111 officially means that the Senate is moving forward with its bill rather than sending the House back the sports betting bill it already passed, which means the House would need to spend more time on the bill than simply concurring with the changes.

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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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