Sports Teams Urge Ohio Lawmakers to Legalize Sports Gambling

Sports gambling is close to reality in Ohio, with a few last-minute details to iron out. Yet, a debate about which body should regulate the industry threatens the advancement of talks. 

Put Difference Aside and Legalize Sports Gambling

Ohio has been getting closer to legalizing sports gambling, but one last hurdle may prove a bit dogged. 

As the state’s legislative session is advancing, talks about bringing sports gambling to the state may stall as lawmakers are unable to decide which body should oversee the upcoming regulated market, even before an official bill has been put forward. One is just around the corner, too.

It should be a toss-up between the Ohio Lottery and the Ohio Casino Commission, but legislators see the matter differently as they continue to provide arguments in and against electing either body. 

Amid this deadlock, the Ohio Professional Sports Coalition (OPSC) has stepped in, asking for clarity and urging legislators to put their differences aside and see to a regulated sports gambling market. Lawmakers seem to have grander plans for legalizing gambling in the Buckeye State, too. 

Sports teams’ objection lies in the fact that as lawmakers find new reasons to quibble over, millions of tax revenue are seeping off into the offshore gambling market. OPSC spokesperson Curt Steiner has urged the legislature to put differences aside and focus on the hand at the task: 

“Ohio has the opportunity to get it right, and the way to get it right is to allow the sports teams to have fair market access, to have healthy competition, to limit the number of licenses, and to give fans the opportunities to engage with their favorite teams.”

The divide is one that seizes the sports coalition as well. OPSC’s members prefer to see the Ohio Casino Commission in charge, whereas opponents have argued that the onus should fall on the Lottery Commission. While trivial, this divide could potentially gridlock talk about the legalization of sports gambling once a bill is introduced. One is in the offing. 

Ohio’s Sports Gambling Bill Coming Down the Home Stretch 

The good news is that Ohio state Sen. Kirk Schuring believes in the successful outcome of the legalization. Speaking to News-Talk 1450 AM in Canton, Ohio on Tuesday, Schuring said that a draft bill was “coming down the home stretch,” with the senator confirming that the legislature is close to producing a bill that should get strong support.

There have already been eight meetings by the committee overseeing the draft with 50 witnesses and 200 bullet points discussing the future legalization of sports in the state. Governor Mike DeWine has also vowed his support for the launch of sports gambling in the state, adding that the activity was “certainly coming to Ohio.”

Schuring though may have even bigger plans as the draft bill reportedly discussed other verticals as well, including casino gambling, electronic bingo, and other popular verticals that could yield higher revenue for the state.

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