Committee Could Hear Ohio Sports Betting Bill Before Election Day

Posted on September 17, 2020 - Last Updated on October 13, 2020

Movement on the Ohio sports betting bill could come sooner than expected.

Although the Ohio legislature won’t have time to pass sports betting legislation prior to the election, Sen. John Eklund tells PlayOhio that he wants to have the bill teed up and ready to go when lawmakers return for the lame-duck session in mid-November.

“Just because there’s no legislative sessions of the House or Senate doesn’t mean that committees are forbidden to meet,” Eklund said.

“I have reason to be hopeful that the bill will get referred to the committee before the election. And I will advocate with the chairman to hold a hearing before the election. We’re going to put the peg in the ground, put the ball on it and be ready to take a swing.”

Although H 194 has yet to be assigned to a Senate committee, it is likely to follow in the footsteps of Eklund’s S 111. Eklund’s bill was assigned to the Senate General Government and Agency Review Committee.

Sponsors work out differences in Ohio sports betting bills

Eklund, Sen. Sean O’Brien, Rep. Dave Greenspan, and Rep. Brigid Kelly agreed to substitute language for H 194, which the House passed in May.

They plan to pitch the substitute language at the first committee hearing.

Key points of the Ohio sports betting substitute bill include:

  • Casino Control Commission as regulator (House bill had Lottery Commission)
  • 8% tax rate (a compromise between 10% in the House bill and 6¼% in the Senate)
  • Three skins allowed per casino/racino
  • No mandate for official league data
  • Initial license fee of $100,000

Eklund cautioned that the substitute language is a starting point for the discussion in the Senate. For instance, the sponsors put three skins because the number has worked in New Jersey and neighboring Indiana. However, they haven’t yet gotten feedback from the Ohio industry on that figure.

Senator cautiously optimistic for Ohio sports betting passage

The Ohio legislative chambers break for election preparation Wednesday. However, the chairman can call committees to meet at any time.

Eklund said he wants to at least get the bill assigned and heard in a committee before the election, if not passed through the committee.

Greenspan previously told PlayOhio that he didn’t “think there will be much resistance to passage.” Eklund wants to be more cautious.

“This is by no means a done deal,” Eklund said. “Even if the four sponsors of the two bills agree, I have to tell you it means nothing in the legislative world – nothing.”

However, leadership of both chambers and the governor support passing sports betting legislation this year. It’s just about working out the details, and now the lawmakers have a model to do so.

“There’s reason for optimism,” Eklund said. “I would say that Ohio will have sport wagering in some form or another relatively soon. But I don’t like four people in government telling the world how things are going to be when, at the end of the day, you never know.”

Matthew Kredell Avatar
Written by
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.

View all posts by Matthew Kredell