All Buckeyes On Ohio: Legal Sports Betting One Step Closer To Reality

Posted on May 29, 2020

There appears to be more competition coming from the south for Michigan sports betting.

With budget crunches throughout the country and momentum of regulated sports betting growing, Ohio is moving toward the front of the line.

The state House of Representatives approved a gambling bill on Thursday, moving it to the Senate, where another bill already sits.

The House approved its bill, which had been debated for over a year, by an 83-10 vote.

Conservative Republicans were the only dissenters of the non-partisan bill, sponsored by Democrat Brigid Kelly and Republican David Greenspan.

Ohio would become the 18th state with sports betting.

Details of competing Ohio sports betting bills

While both bills allow for mobile sports betting, one point of contention is the regulatory body.

The House bill gives authority to the Ohio Lottery Commission, while the Senate bill favors the Casino Control Commission.

The divide is not a partisan one, as Republicans control both congressional chambers. Gov. Mike DeWine, who favors the Senate bill, is also a Republican.

Tax rates and where the revenue goes appear to be primary issues going forward.

The House bill proposes a 10% tax on betting receipts and sends proceeds to education and responsible gambling programs.

The Senate bill has a 6.25% tax with revenue earmarked for the state’s general fund.

College sports betting could be a potential sticking point. The state’s 13 Division I college athletic directors all signed a letter in opposition to including collegiate athletics into the House’s proposed bill.

Ohio sports betting tax proposals straddle Michigan

Citing Indiana billboards near her Cincinnati district, Kelly said Ohio is losing revenue to neighboring states that have sports betting.

Michigan is one of four Ohio neighbors with sports betting available. Joining Indiana are Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

Michigan, with sports betting regulated by the Michigan Gaming Control Board, has an 8.4% tax rate. That figure nearly splits the difference between the competing Ohio proposals.

Pennsylvania has a 36% tax rate on sports betting. West Virginia is at 10% and Indiana taxes at 9.5%.

The House bill would collect $23.7 million in fiscal year 2022, while the Senate bill would net $20 million, according to state estimates reported by Cincinnati.com.

Michigan and Ohio border war could intensify

Ohio State dominating Michigan in college football every November could soon be joined by another interstate rivalry.

Michigan casinos near the Ohio border will be paying particular interest to the retail sports betting outcomes.

Detroit, about an hour’s drive from Ohio, has three commercial casinos:

Hollywood Casino Toledo is the closest Ohio casino to the Michigan border.

Timeline for what’s next in Ohio

Greenspan told Legal Sports Report that he expects debate over the issue to take place this summer and a bill to be on DeWine’s desk by the end of the year.

In November, DeWine’s press secretary indicated the governor hoped to have sports betting settled through the legislative process before this November’s elections.

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Matt Schoch

A Michigan native, Matt has worked at newspapers in Michigan, Missouri and the Virgin Islands. A versatile sports reporter, Matt has covered sailing on the Great Lakes, cricket in the Caribbean, high school and pro playoffs, and the Olympics in Rio. He's also the host of the Locked On Pistons Podcast and producer of a documentary on Emoni Bates. A former blackjack dealer, Matt has studied the industry from all sides.

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