Argument Bubbles Over Who Should Regulate Ohio Sports Betting

Sen. John Eklund, a lawyer for nearly 40 years, is tired of hearing arguments that the Ohio Casino Control Commission (CCC) could not legally regulate sports wagering but the Ohio Lottery Commission (OLC) could.

That is the narrative being pushed by House lawmakers led by Rep. Dave Greenspan. Eklund admits that it has played a part in S 111 not having any momentum in the first half of the Ohio legislative session. It hasn’t even been assigned to a committee.

Eklund said:

“I think part of the reason it has been slow to move on the Senate side has been because of some lingering and, in my opinion, unjustified concerns over the extent of which the Ohio Constitution would permit the Casino Commission to regulate this activity.

“I have argued that point publicly, privately and six ways to Sunday. I’m not just talking through my hat. I’ve researched it, read cases, and I certainly know enough about the constitution of Ohio.”

The argument against the CCC overseeing OH sports betting revolves around the old argument about whether wagering on sports is a casino game. Greenspan has an opinion from the Legislative Service Commission that indicates, under the Ohio Constitution, it is not.

“Nothing in the Ohio Constitution says the Casino Control Commission may not regulate sports gaming,” Eklund said. “Nothing. If they want to take that tact, which I think is wrongheaded, I could make the equally wrongheaded argument that the Constitution doesn’t authorize the Lottery Commission to regulate sports gaming. A lot of this is trying to interpret words to get a particular result.”

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