Ohio is close to legalizing sports gambling, but close doesn’t quite cut it. Whether a bill is two steps, or five, away from being signed into law, it still isn’t law. Disputes can happen at any turn, forcing any subject to a grinding halt. This is essentially where Ohio is now, with lawmakers unable to reach a consensus on several points. Sports gambling most likely won’t come to Ohio this year.
The General Assembly is considering two bills – one each from the House and the Senate. House Bill 194 (HB 194) and Senate Bill 111 (SB 111) each have their merits and are similar in a lot of ways, but the two chambers differ on a number of points in the legislation, including who will regulate the sports gambling industry.
The House bill has the Ohio Lottery Commission would regulate an industry that could contain as many as 1,000 sportsbooks across the state. The Senate bill, on the other hand, wants the activity to be controlled by the Ohio Casino Control Commission (OCCC). The Senate argues that the commission has the experience and expertise to control the activity and would want sports wagers to be available only at the 11 casinos and racinos licensed in the state.