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Senate Sports Betting Bill Gives Authority To Casino Regulators

The gaming pavilion at Horseshoe Cincinnati
Tana Weingartner, WVXU
The gaming pavilion at Horseshoe Cincinnati

The Ohio Senate has released its latest attempt to legalize sports betting in the state with a proposal that creates two types of licenses, both regulated by the Ohio Casino Control Commission.

The bipartisan Senate proposal, SB176, would allow two types of sports betting licenses.

A Type A License would be for entities that can "bank the bet" which includes Ohio's 4 casinos and 7 racinos. That license would allow the holder to go into contract with an online gaming vendor, such as Fan Duel or Draft Kings.

A Type B license would be for brick-and-mortar sports books where facilities can offer a place for people to make prop bets.

Senator Kirk Schuring (R-Canton) says transactions would have a 10% state tax.

"This is not about revenue generation. This is about something that's occurring right now in Ohio illegally. We want to put guardrails around it and we want to make sure it's being done properly with the right regulatory authority," says Schuring who adds the revenue would go towards school funding and problem gambling services.

The bill would allow 20 Type A licenses and 20 Type B licenses, with each license costing $1 million.

The Senate has clashed on this issue with the Ohio House, which wants the Ohio Lottery Commission to have regulatory authority.

A coalition of Ohio's professional sports teams have asked that the casino regulators have purview over sports betting.

"We look forward to continuing to engage with lawmakers on this important topic. Our coalition members produce the games that make sports betting possible, and it’s important that our businesses have fair market access to mobile and physical sports betting applications included in the Senate bill. There is no sports betting without sports," Curt Steiner wrote in a statement on behalf of the Ohio Professional Sports Coalition, which represents Ohio’s eight major league professional sports franchises and the PGA TOUR’s Memorial Tournament.

Republican leaders in the Senate say the bill will be a comprehensive policy on gaming, also dealing with e-bingo and iLottery.

The legislation would allow e-bingo at fraternal houses, such as VFW's, through provisions that create a central database where the Ohio attorney general can monitor transactions, establish robust background checks, and verify that the equipment used does not constitute slot machines.

As for iLottery, or online lottery games, the Senate bill would create a select committee so the legislature can review that type of gaming further and analyze the impact it can have on retailers.

House Speaker Bob Cupp (R-Lima) said he has not yet seen the Senate's proposal but notes he's interested in the bill as the House prepares its own legislation on sports betting.

When asked if the House Republican Caucus still supports making the Ohio Lottery Commission the regulatory authority, Cupp said, "Not necessarily, I think the general consensus is forming that the Casino Control Commission might be the appropriate body but that wouldn't prevent them from possibly contracting with the Lottery Commission to do some things."

Copyright 2021 The Statehouse News Bureau

Andy Chow is a general assignment state government reporter who focuses on environmental, energy, agriculture, and education-related issues. He started his journalism career as an associate producer with ABC 6/FOX 28 in Columbus before becoming a producer with WBNS 10TV.