There is no greater ally for a sports betting push than a sitting governor, and Gov. Mike DeWine this week delicately put his finger on the scale in the debate. According to the Columbus Dispatch, the Republican governor has indicated that he favors the casino regulator as the sports betting overseer.
House legislation sitting with the House Finance Committee would have the Ohio Lottery regulate the market, which, according to the plan, would allow potentially hundreds of locations across the state to offer the new form of gambling through terminals. The casinos would have Las Vegas-style sportsbooks.
Under the Senate version, the OCCC would regulate, not the lottery.
The House bill had a hearing Thursday, and it featured passionate testimony from the Bowling Centers Association of Ohio, an industry trade group. The organization told House lawmakers that it wants bowling alleys to be able to have sports betting on-site. A multitude of other types of b&m locations with existing lottery contracts also want involvement in sports wagering.
Both the House and Senate versions call for statewide online/mobile sports betting.
The stakes are high. A mature Ohio sports betting market, assuming state-of-the-art mobile adoption, could generate $7.7 billion in annual handle and more than $550 million in taxable gaming revenue, according to a 2017 study from Oxford Economics.