Ohio lawmakers make bids to legalize sports betting

Two weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court brought down the 26-year-old federal wall between states and sports betting, legislation and ballot issues have already been proposed to legalize and regulate a new industry potentially worth billions in Ohio.

But where should Ohioans place those bets on the outcomes and point spreads of football, basketball, and other professional and college games? Who would regulate this newly legal type of gambling, how much would it be taxed, and who would benefit?

One approach would keep it within the walls of where major gambling already takes place — at the Las Vegas-style casinos in Toledo, Cleveland, Columbus, and Cincinnati and seven racetrack slots parlors.

Another plan would spread the wealth across the state to sports bars, restaurants, bowling alleys, and fraternal organizations like the Veterans of Foreign Wars and Elks. It would also allow slot machines in such establishments, the first time they could be played outside a casino or racino.

“There’s a lobbying effort by the casinos and a lot of money involved,” said Rick Lertzman, whose Open Ohio organization is preparing language for a constitutional amendment that would need voter approval.

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