The sports betting bill in Ohio finally reached the senate floor after it was unanimously approved in the Senate Select Committee on Gaming Tuesday afternoon.
Licensing Process Delayed
It took more than a dozen hearings and a number of changes before the committee unanimously voted SB176 to move the bill to the Senate Rules and Reference Committee, where the bill may face further delays due to the 45 proposed amendments.
An omnibus amendment to the bill will delay the launch of the process of licensing for sports betting in the state which was set to initiate on October 1, 2021, but will now begin on January 1, 2022, with the first licenses issued from April 1, 2022.
According to Kirk Schuring, chair of the Senate Select Committee on Gaming, the delay was necessary to ensure all operators begin on equal footing when the market launches. From the bettors’ perspective, the delay means that state residents willing to wager on the Super Bowl or most of March Madness in 2022 will have to go out of state to do so.
License Expansion by Type and Number
The omnibus amendment also increased the number of Type A licenses for mobile and digital platforms from 20 to 25 and Type B for land-based venues from 20 to 33, as well as introduced a third type of license, Type C.
Available to “D Liquor establishments”, restaurants, bars, nightclubs and others, the third type of license will allow no fewer than 3 but no more than 20 such establishments to introduce betting kiosks at their locations, with up to 2 kiosks allowed per site and a daily location limit of $200.
Betting kiosks which will be able to offer only spread, moneyline and over/under wagering will also be available to other establishments with a license to sell liquor which will be allowed to host up to 2 kiosks per site on behalf of a Type C license holder.
“The general themes are free-market approach and no exclusivity. We want to get this done, both the House and Senate, so we are on the right track to make that happen.”Kirk Schuring, Chair, Select Committee on Gaming, Ohio Senate
Preference for Sports Franchises
Under a new amendment, Ohio’s 8 professional sports teams, its NASCAR track and the PGA Tour’s Memorial Tournament which are allowed to apply for a sports betting license as a retail sportsbook, will now have preference for approval, while retail sportsbooks will have strict location criteria.
The Ohio Casino Control Commission, in collaboration with the state Attorney General, will have to address the issue raised by the Problem Gambling Network of Ohio, which argued that electronic bingo machines in effect are underregulated slot machines. The commission will also have to conduct a study on problem gambling as part of the amended bill.