Sports Betting Only Makes Brief Appearance In Ohio Senate Committee

Posted on November 19, 2020 - Last Updated on November 18, 2020

If you blinked, you might have missed Wednesday’s Ohio Senate committee hearing on sports betting.

After a 40-minute delay, the video feed kicked in to show Sen. John Eklund introduce his bill. He told the committee that the sponsors intended to keep working on a new draft and hoped to have another hearing soon.

Adam Suliman of JACK Entertainment provided oral testimony in general support of legalizing sports betting in Ohio, as he did in the same committee last November.

And that was that. After five minutes of discussion, Kirk Schuring, chair of the Senate General Government Agency Review Committee, moved on to the next issue.

Ohio Senate commitment to sports betting unclear

The sponsors saw the purpose of the hearing as giving the committee an update on the process.

But Eklund also told PlayOhio that he expected the committee would have heard H 194, the presumed sports betting vehicle since it already passed the House.

Eklund was surprised when the chair told him not to introduce the substitute he has been working on with fellow sponsors, Sen. Sean O’Brien and Reps. Dave Greenspan and Bridgid Kelly.

The cursory committee mention provides little confidence that Ohio is gearing up to move on sports betting in the short time frame of the lame-duck session.

Although little time remains to pass the bill, Schuring did not announce any future plans for sports betting at the conclusion of the hearing.

Industry recommends changes for Ohio sports betting

Although the hearing officially considered S 111 as introduced, consideration of the outdated bill did not stop proponents from addressing changes they’d like to see to language in the most recently circulated draft.

Representatives of Penn National Gaming, DraftKings, FanDuel and iDEA Growth provided written testimony.

DraftKings and FanDuel, which penned a joint letter, and iDEA Growth offered specific suggestions of improvements to the Oct. 30 draft. They included:

  • Clarify the ability to offer multiple online skins: The last draft lowered skins from three to two and added confusing language on brand limits. iDEA asked to go back to a maximum of three skins and clarify that they refer to online brands. DraftKings and FanDuel also asked for clarity on online skins.
  • Broaden the definition of “sporting event”: DraftKings, FanDuel and iDEA asked to expand the events on which wagers can be placed to include esports. DraftKings and FanDuel also want amateur sporting events when approved by the Ohio Casino Control Commission (CCC).
  • Allow flexibility in server placement: Current language requires sports betting licensees to host online wagering servers on their property. DraftKings and FanDuel want to place the servers anywhere in the state as they do in other jurisdictions. iDEA also pointed out language requires that casinos/racinos or their sports betting partners own these data centers. The association suggested allowing licensed operators to contract with data center providers located within the state.
  • Ditch central integrity monitoring: iDEA contended that having the CCC manage its own central integrity monitoring system would place a massive burden on the commission and undermine the effective global approach to integrity monitoring. It recommended the commission partner with a global sports integrity monitoring service for this purpose.
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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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