Ohio does not plan to commission a disparity study of its budding sports betting industry ahead of the state’s Jan. 1, 2023 launch.
PlayOhio reported in July that no such study was underway despite a clear directive in the Ohio sports betting law signed by Gov. Mike DeWine last December.
A spokeswoman for the Ohio Department of Administrative Services told WCPO Cincinnati last week that the study will not be commissioned before the licensing process concludes and sports betting begins in January.
Ohio sports betting law required a disparity study
Ohio’s sports betting law, HB 29, included a provision added at the insistence of some Black lawmakers requires the DAS director, currently Kathleen Madden, to:
“…determine whether, and the extent to which, qualified persons experience discrimination or disadvantage in the sports gaming industry on the basis of their membership in a racial minority group, their color or ethnicity, their gender, or their disability. The director shall provide the results of the study to the Ohio casino control commission and shall inform the commission whether, in the director’s opinion, the results of the study warrant action by the commission.”
The law also charges the Ohio Casino Control Commission with determining whether an analysis of the industry warrants creating “goals to ensure that sports gaming licenses are issued to applicants … on an equitable basis with other applicants.”
Back in July, some lawmakers were frustrated that there were no plans to commission the study even as the state’s licensing process was picking up steam.
State Sen. Cecil Thomas, a co-sponsor of HB 29 and a Democratic member of the Ohio Senate’s Select Committee on Gaming, told PlayOhio that he thought the study should be completed ahead of the launch:
“It is disturbing to hear that the department has not hired a company to do this study. It makes no sense to do the study after the licenses are already issued. What’s the purpose of the study if it isn’t to inform decision makers on how to develop a sports betting licensing system that is open and fair to everyone in Ohio and does not favor one group over another, whether it is based on gender, race, ethnicity or disability, and where both groups are qualified.”
Ohio administrators prefer to do the study after sports betting launch
WCPO reported that as of Sept. 20, only one of the first 45 sports betting kiosk host licenses in Hamilton County went to a minority-owned business.
Melissa Vance, a spokeswoman for the Ohio Department of Administrative Services, confirmed that the study won’t happen before launch.
“We believe the study is best conducted following the issuance of licenses when the independent consultant would have relevant information to consider in completing the study,” Vance said.
Thomas again voiced his displeasure, according to WCPO.
“We want some action on this,” Thomas said. “If we are going to do this, we want to be very inclusive because there’s plenty to go around.”
Kiosks could offer an entry point for minority-owned businesses
The Ohio Lottery has pre-approved over 1,300 businesses to host kiosks, and the OCCC has formally approved 811 licenses. The commission does not collect demographic information on those businesses. WCPO examined the 45 approvals in Hamilton County and found only one black-owned business on the list.
Kiosks could offer minority-owned businesses a viable entry point into the market. To qualify for a Type-C license to host a kiosk, companies must:
- Be a licensed lottery sales agent.
- Hold a Type D1 (beer only), D2 (wine and mixed drinks only) or D5 (full bar) liquor permit.
- Be a for-profit corporation or association.
- Pay a non-refundable $1,000 application fee to the Ohio Casino Control Commission.
- Select a licensed Type C Sports Gaming Proprietor partner.
A wide range of businesses possess these licenses, and the OCCC will approve kiosks in such places as bars, restaurants, bowling alleys, golf courses, hotels, convenience stores, truck stops and supermarkets.
The business hosting the kiosk will need to partner with a kiosk operator, which will install equipment, train staff and provide ongoing equipment maintenance and service, along with marketing and customer service. The operator may provide up to two sports betting kiosks per location.