Legal sports betting coming soon to Ohio: What to know about it

Legalized gambling on sports will come to Ohio no later than Jan. 1, 2023, and perhaps as early as next April.

Legislators capped three years of work on sports betting with a late-afternoon move by both houses on Wednesday to approve a conference committee’s merger of rival House and Senate bills.

“As the main sponsor of the original bill this year, I am very pleased we finally passed this bill to legalize sports betting,” state Sen. Niraj Antani, R-Miamisburg, said in a statement. “Ohioans want to be able to bet on sports and they will now finally be able to. Whether it’s rooting on the Buckeyes or the Bengals, sports betting will add that additional fun factor in enjoying sports.”

Bets will be allowed on professional sports and esports teams, but betting on horse racing will remain confined to established pari-mutuel betting at racetracks.

Substitute House Bill 29 creates three levels of gambling licenses:

• Type A licenses allow offering sports gambling on mobile apps. Twenty-five such licenses can be issued, with preference given to Ohio’s professional sports teams and existing casinos, according to state Rep. Bill Seitz, R-Cincinnati.

• Type B licenses would allow major operations at up to 42 brick-and-mortar locations. Those would most likely be at existing casinos, he said.

• Type C licenses would allow up to two gaming machines in kiosks and some lottery ticket sellers; and in bars, restaurants and bowling alleys that hold alcohol licenses.

The existing Casino Control Commission will oversee all license types, but the Ohio Lottery Commission will have some role in regulating the kiosks at lottery ticket sellers, according to the Senate Majority Caucus. The licenses are good for five years. The state can begin accepting license applications Jan. 1, 2022, and can start issuing them April 1, 2022. According to the Senate Majority Caucus, the program will launch no later than Jan. 1, 2023.

“This was a hard fought, complex effort to make sure this opportunity was accessible across multiple platforms, and not exclusive to a single set of wealthy operators,” Ohio Senate President Matt Huffman, R-Lima, said in a news release.

The final bill included more than 50 changes from the bills previously passed by separately by House and Senate, but was unanimously approved by the conference committee, Seitz said.

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