Analysis

Revised Ohio sports-betting bill offers Wedge Index hope

Revised legislation in Ohio would potentially allow casinos 30-plus skins, boosting the Wedge Index score.

A revised version of Ohio’s sports-betting legislation which is being readied for the state senate would boost the state’s accessibility for gaming consumers and would see it rise up the Wedge Index rankings.

The draft legislation seeks to find a compromise between the bill already passed by the state House of Representatives and a rival bill put forward by the Senate.

The legislation which passed the lower house in May would allow the state’s land-based gaming entities up to 33 skins between them.

Add in remote registration and this measure would make the state the most open in terms of sports-betting brand opportunities in the US and would push the Wedge Index ranking from T31 where the state is currently to the top of the tree if all 33 operators licences were issued and up-and-running.

The fact that the legislation – and therefore the Wedge Index rating – hangs in the balance illustrates how gaming accessibility can be influenced by many factors

Many of the details of the Ohio legislation are yet to be decided upon, including tax rates and issues around official data.

There are currently 11 land-based gaming entities operating in Ohio including four casinos and seven racinos. In terms of existing positions, Penn National owns two Hollywood-branded casinos in Columbus and Toledo and leads the way while Jack Entertainment owns the other two properties in Cincinnati and Cleveland.

When it comes to the racinos, Penn National and Jack Entertainment once again have one property each while MGM Resorts International and Caesars Entertainment feature among the rest. 

Numerous new entrants
Of the other brands likely to enter the market, Kindred recently secured future access to the Ohio sports-betting market for its Unibet brand via an access deal with Penn National.

According to local news sources there would likely be pressure from the Ohio Casino Control Commission for licence-holders to take up their allotted three skins rather than leave them dormant. Any dormant skins would harm the state’s prospective Wedge Index rating as it would necessarily limit the number of brands able to enter the market.

Whether the revised legislation will pass through the Senate later this year remains in the balance. While like other states Ohio will need the potential extra revenues, it is thought the proposed tax rates and licensing fees are yet to be decided. The window of opportunity for the bill to gain the governor’s signature is also closing. 

This session of the state legislature comes to an end at the end of the year and there are only a handful of dates when the senate will be meeting, including a lame-duck session after the November elections.

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Jake Pollard

Jake Pollard is an experienced journalist and editor who has covered the online gaming and betting industry for many years. He has written for the leading media outlets as well as operators and suppliers in the igaming space. His current areas of focus are wide-ranging and include regulatory developments in the US, emerging markets in South America and how European countries are adapting to a decade of igaming regulation.

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