While West Virginia lawmakers sprinted to throw open sports betting windows when they passed a legalization measure within five weeks of the May 14th U.S. Supreme Court ruling, Ohio lawmakers have barely laced up their sneakers.
The cautious approach from Ohio’s political leadership is partially because of who's in charge -- Gov. John Kasich and Senate President Larry Obhof of Medina have both said they aren’t for expanding gambling into sports betting -- but also because the pathway forward in the Buckeye State isn’t very clear.
Some folks like state Sen. John Eklund, the lead GOP sponsor for a 16-word placeholder bill, think the state can regulate sports betting through passing a new law, the avenue taken in West Virginia, New Jersey, Mississippi and Delaware. Others like the powerful Senate President Larry Obhof, a Yale Law school graduate, told Cleveland.com in August that a constitutional amendment would need to be approved by Ohio voters in order to legalize bookmakers.
As if that's not confusing enough, there's still others who think that sports betting could be allowed under a loophole in the 2009 constitutional amendment passed allowing four land-based casinos in Ohio. That loophole states that casinos in Ohio can offer any table game that states bordering Ohio offer. Therefore, now that West Virginia is taking sports bets, so can Ohio.
While Obhof has said a Senate vote on sports gambling probably won't happen in 2018, this year's post-election lame duck session could be wild, especially if long-beleaguered Democrats manage to win back the governor's office.
So what’s going to happen in Ohio? After talking to some Statehouse insiders, here are the four most probable rolls of the sports gambling dice.