Ohio Sports Betting Legalization: Neighbors, And The Road Ahead

A long-awaited, full-fledged Ohio sports betting bill hit the table earlier this month, the first of its kind for the Buckeye State.

The Ohio Legislature has all of 2019 to consider the issue, but in the wake of the introduction by two state Senators from Northeast Ohio — John Eklund, a Republican, and Sean O’Brien, a Democrat — it has become clear that there’s a substantial debate ahead among Ohio policymakers and the stakeholders and constituents they represent. With that said, there’s no such thing as smooth sailing for state-level sports betting legislation.

The Ohio legislation, Senate Bill 111, was filed a day ahead of Republican Gov. Mike DeWine’s budget address. DeWine, who last year said that Ohio should pursue sports betting regulation, didn’t include any sports betting revenue in his budget. There was some speculation that he might.

“Let’s see where the legislature wants to go and how they want to do it [sports betting],” DeWine said in response to a reporter’s question at a press conference on Mar. 15. The legislation currently calls for a 6.25% tax rate on sports betting revenues, which is lower than Nevada’s take. It’s likely that the low tax rate will be the subject of significant debate in the coming months.

DeWine realizes the bill is still in its infancy, and the potential windfall for Ohio depends on what’s in the bill.

A hearing on the proposal has not been scheduled yet.

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