Republican state senators behind new push to legalize sports gambling in Ohio

A man walks by as betting odds for NFL football's Super Bowl 55 are displayed on monitors at the Circa resort and casino sports book, Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Caption
A man walks by as betting odds for NFL football's Super Bowl 55 are displayed on monitors at the Circa resort and casino sports book, Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

Credit: John Locher

Credit: John Locher

After years of debate, Ohio legislatures are ready to again try to legalize sports betting in Ohio.

Republican lawmakers in the state Senate rolled out a plan Thursday that would allow 40 sports betting licenses to be issued in the state for taking wagers on professional and college sports.

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Half of those could be available to the state’s casinos and horse racing tracks called racinos, which could then partner with outside companies to provide sports betting online or mobile apps.

The other 20 licenses would be for brick-and-mortar locations that could include casinos, racinos, sports bars or betting shops where people can watch and wager on games. Ohio’s pro sports teams are among those that could apply for the type of licenses that allow in-game betting, said Kirk Schuring, a Canton Republican.

Local state Senator Niraj Antani, R- Miamisburg also is a co-sponsor of the bill and said that it’s a free market approach to sports gambling in Ohio.

“At the end of the day the people of Ohio wanted it, they wanted it since 2018 when the Supreme Court ruled states can in fact legalize sports betting and that’s what this bill would do,” he said.

The Casino Control Commission would have until January 2022 to issue the licenses, and people will find out where they can bet and what apps they can bet on, Antani said. He said that he has heard from residents who didn’t want to expand gambling in the state, but pointed to the possibility of out-of-state billionaires coming into Ohio and running a ballot initiative and creating a monopoly.

“That’s why we have to do it in a very safe and regulated approach which is what this bill does,” Antani said.

The goal right now is to get the law passed before the statehouse recess for the summer, he said.

The bill also would authorize the Ohio Lottery Commission to run sports pools for people to wager on the outcome of games or a series of games. Bettors would pay $20 to enter a pool with the money divided equally among winners minus the commission’s 10% take.

The proposed legislation would allow Ohioans to bet on collegiate sports, but the Ohio Casino Control Commission would decide which teams are eligible and how that’s enforced. The Inter-University Council of Ohio, which represents the state’s 14 public universities, had asked lawmakers to exempt collegiate sports from gambling in Ohio. Under the proposals, no bets could be placed on K-12 sports.

The Associated Press contributed to this story