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Ohio lawmakers vote in favour of legalizing sports betting

Ohio sports betting news

The Ohio legislature finally succeeded in passing a bill legalizing regulated sports betting this week, putting an end to three years of stalemate.

On Wednesday, a conference committee comprising members of the Ohio Senate and House of Representatives voted unanimously to pass a measure seeking to legalize sports betting in the state, sending it to the floors of both chambers for full votes. The Senate was the first to green-light the conference report with a vote of 30-1, with the House approving it 72-12 later in the afternoon.

The enabling legislation, HB 29, allows both retail and mobile sportsbooks, and all operations pertaining to sports betting in the precinct will be overseen by the Casino Control Commission. The passage of the bill is a huge breakthrough for Ohio sports betting, which has been under negotiations since 2019.

Following the favorable vote by the legislature, HB 29 is now headed to Governor Mike DeWine’s desk for final approval. The Governor is on record saying that he would support efforts to legalize sports betting in the Buckeye State, and there is no doubt that he will sign off on the bill before the end of the year.

What will Ohio sports betting look like?

As earlier mentioned, sports fans in the Buckeye State will have both physical and mobile sportsbooks when the market launches.

Those who will be eligible to offer sports betting in the state will include professional sports teams and leagues, casinos, racinos, lottery retailers, and bars and restaurants with certain liquor licenses.

HB 29 establishes 25 mobile betting licenses, but the Casino Control Commission has been authorized to issue more permits if the applicants demonstrate that the additional sportsbooks will be of “incremental economic benefit” to the state.

Ohio’s four casinos, seven racinos, and sports teams will be allowed two online skins each, and the initial license fees will be $3 million for the first skin and $10 million for the second. These permits will be renewable at the same cost every five years.

The tax rate for operators has been set at 10% of the adjusted gross revenue. The majority of the revenue generated by the industry will go to the state’s education fund, with smaller portions earmarked for problem gambling programs and veterans’ services.

When it comes to retail betting, Ohioans can expect up to 42 in-person sports wagering locations.

The bill also authorizes gambling on professional esports, but sportsbooks will not be allowed to offer bets on horse racing. A clause proposing the use of official league data to settle bets was also removed during negotiations in the conference committee.

The minimum age requirement for anyone looking to place bets with legal sportsbooks in the state will be 21 years.

When will sports betting launch in Ohio?

It is still early to predict when Ohio sports betting will get off the ground since there are several regulatory hurdles to be cleared before the first operator can start accepting wagers.

HB 29 requires the market to launch no later than January 1, 2023, but this does not mean that Ohioans could not have legal sportsbooks sometime in 2022 as we have seen states like Connecticut and Wyoming kick off operations within six months of passing enabling legislation.

Meanwhile, all eyes are now on Gov. DeWine as efforts to bring sports betting to the state edge closer to fruition.

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