Analysis

Clock running down on Ohio sports betting Bill

For sports betting in Ohio to get the go-ahead in the current legislative session the bill getting Committee approval before the end of next week.

After a crucial Ohio Senate meeting earlier this week, the bill to regulate sports betting failed to receive the votes that would have sent it on to the Senate floor for a vote.

Legislators have less than half a month to go before their current session comes to an end. After that, a new Senate season starts.

The latest session of the vital Senate Committee met last Tuesday but failed to pass the bill.

Hopes were high in November than the last hurdles could be overcome for sports-betting to get the go ahead.

However, now the legislature has until late next week to give the bill a pass. The last session of the Senate is scheduled for December 17.

For the Bill to become law, it would also need to pass through the state House. Should the house make any changes, then the Senate would need to concur.

Changes made

There have been some amendments to the legislation as originally formulated. The number of licensees is now 11 – i.e. one skin per licensee.

Many of these are already accounted for by already-signed market access agreements. The fight for the remaining handful of skins will be fierce with the likelihood that some big names would miss out.

Ohio is currently T19th on the Wedge Index of gaming friendliness. Any move to allow sports betting and remote registration alongside it would see it climb the chart to the top 10. 

However, moves to limit licensees would curtail its points tally depending on which operators missed out on licenses.

The relative lack of competition will make Ohio an even more attractive opportunity for those that do scramble a license. 

Ohio is the seventh most populous state just behind Illinois and Pennsylvania.

Taxing discussions

Debate also surrounds the potential tax rate that would be applied in the state. As it stands, the Bill specifies an 8% rate although there has been some vocal opposition to this.

Replying to the critics, Penn National said in a submission that those arguing for a higher tax rate didn’t understand the economics of sports betting.

Fees are also built in, including a $100,000 application fee and a $100,000 license fee valid for three years. Both fees would be payable again at the end of the three years.

While this isn’t exactly a now-or-never moment, the problem for sports betting proponents in Ohio if the bill fails is that the sponsors in both the House and the Senate lost their seats in the last election.

The Bill would then be in limbo until new representatives took up the cause.

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Scott Longley

Scott Longley has been a journalist since the early noughties covering personal finance, sport and the gambling industry. He has worked for a number of publications including Investor's Week, Bloomberg Money, Football First, EGR and GamblingCompliance.com. He now writes for online and print titles across a wide range of sectors.

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