Analysis

Ohio sports-betting hangs in the balance

Hopes remain high that Ohio’s sports betting bill HB194 will be passed by the end of the year during the state’s lame-duck session.

This is despite a potential hurdle being erected on Tuesday after the sponsors of the bill lost their seats in the election.

Rep. Greenspan and Sen. O’Brien each lost in Tuesday while Sen.Eklund is “timed out”, according to a tweet from John Pappas, Washington lobbyist with Corridor DC.

It means there will likely be more pressure on supporters to get the bill passed before the current legislative session runs its course at the end of the year.

Other issues with the bill, as it stands, is that it appears to limit the number of available skins in the state to two per licensee or 22 overall.

That compares with 33 in the original bill.

Wedge boost

The possible regulation of sports betting in Ohio would still provide a major boost to the state’s Wedge Index position.

It is currently T18th on the Index tied with 17 other states and regulated sports betting would give it a massive 30 points boost. That would move it into the top 10.

The biggest regulatory change of the latest version of the bill is the reduction, from three to two, of the number of licenses Ohio’s casinos and racinos can sub-license as ‘skins’ to online sportsbook brands.

Maximum 22 brands  

This means the state will have a maximum of 22 operators instead of the 33 originally planned, although the casinos/racinos will not be obligated to hand out all their sports betting licenses.  

Outgoing Sen. Eklund signposted the changes, saying the first draft of the bill submitted in May would be subject to input from all stakeholders.

Ohio’s Casino Control Commission will remain as regulator and the tax rate will stay at 8% on gross revenue after a deduction of federal excise tax payments. 

Operators will not be mandated to use official league data for their odds.

Early Jack launch   

This week also saw Cleveland-based operator Jack Entertainment launch Playjack.com, the first simulated (free-to-play) online betting and gaming website in Ohio.

The site is powered by sports solutions provider Kambi and casino and player account management specialist GAN. 

It will be used to familiarize future sports bettors with online formats and convert them to real money players once the state has regulated online betting.

Jack Entertainment currently operates the Jack Cleveland and Jack Thistledown casinos in Ohio.

Tom Ustunel, GAN Vice-President of Gaming Operations, commented: “The addition of simulated internet sports betting is a natural extension of our existing product offering with key partners, as it offers sports bettors, in any state, the ability to participate in active sporting events with the added benefit of full integration with rewards program.”

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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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