Q&A: Sports wagering in Ohio casinos, racinos and elsewhere

The Supreme Court cleared up one big sports-gambling question on Monday, ruling that any state can now permit wagering on college and pro sports. But the decision created a lot of other questions.

We've been answering many of those over the last few days at cleveland.com/casino. Here's a recap to help you catch up on what you might have missed.

1. Why did the Supreme Court get involved?

The federal Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 barred state-authorized sports gambling, with some exceptions. As a result, Nevada has been the only state where a person can wager in person on the results of a single game.

New Jersey wanted a piece of the gambling pie and went to court. Over objections from the NCAA, NBA, NFL, NHL and Major League Baseball, the court on Monday sided with New Jersey.

This gave every state the go-ahead to legalize betting on sports.

Read more about the court case at this link.

2. When can I legally start placing sports bets in Ohio?

No one knows for sure. In fact, you might never be able to do so. But the door is now open.

Officially, the Ohio Lottery and Casino Control commissions are deferring for guidance to the governor and other state lawmakers, where reaction has been mixed.

An "informal" opinion from the Ohio Attorney General's Office says the legislature can authorize such gambling.

Some people believe the Ohio Constitution must be amended. Others believe, based on the language in the 2009 amendment to the state constitution that allowed four casinos, that Ohio must permit sports betting once it begins in neighboring states.

Bottom line, state lawmakers have the ability to accelerate, or stall, Ohio's move toward sports betting.

This link details more the politics involved.

3. How about other states?

Pennsylvania and West Virginia in the last several months passed laws to begin sports betting.

They took this action in advance of a ruling in the Supreme Court case, because Pennsylvania and West Virginia wanted to get started quickly should the ruling come down as it did.

West Virginia aims to begin wagering before the upcoming football season. Pennsylvania might not be far behind, but the timetable is less certain. Details are being worked out in both states, and casinos will have to pay fees to get started.

Michigan already has fairly wide-ranging language in state law for the Detroit casinos, so sports wagering there might be able to move forward without new legislation, a spokeswoman said.

Nothing is in the works yet for Indiana.

More about the situation in the neighboring states can be at this link.

4. How much tax money could sports wagering bring in?

Not much, if Nevada is any indication.

Currently, Nevada is the only state where in-person bets may be placed on college and pro sports. Sports books accounted for just 2.2 percent of casino gambling revenue in the state last year, according to the Nevada Gaming Control Board.

This amounted to $248.8 million in winnings for the casinos (money kept after paying off sports wagers). Nevada taxed that at a rate of 6.75 percent, bringing in under $20 million in taxes.

Based on Ohio's gambling tax rate of 33 percent and the amount of wagering now done at Ohio's casinos and racinos, Ohio would raise about $15 million a year on casino taxes and/or lottery proceeds by adding sports wagering.

This, of course, is just an estimate based on Nevada. But it offers a clue that the money at stake likely would not be huge. For a comparison, Ohio's annual state budget is roughly $35 billion.

More on this topic at this link.

5. Could Ohio offer sports wagering outside the casinos?

Yes, according to at least one proposal being floated.

A backer of previous ballot efforts for expansion of casino gambling in Ohio said he might begin a new petition drive aimed at offering sports wagering at small bars and restaurants across the state. Rick Lertzman said he would like to see a proposal on the ballot as early as November 2019.

To view the article online click here.