COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Betting on sports is one step closer to becoming legal in Ohio, after the Ohio House of Representatives on Thursday approved a gambling bill that’s been debated in the Statehouse for over a year.
BetMGM is yet another strong contender for the Ohio online sports betting market. The operator offers a wide range of US and international betting markets including the major pro and college leagues. Real Money sports betting in Ohio is currently only available at a select few sportsbooks. Without the ability to bet on games at brick and mortar locations, bettors are required to place their wagers online. Thankfully, there are plenty of top Ohio sports betting.
The only current way to bet on sports in Ohio is via online international books like Bovada. For the full gamut of Ohio gambling laws, you can visit the official state repository § 2915.02 here. While there are no regulated sports betting options in Ohio, there are a number of offshore online bookies that are willing to accept Ohio. BetMGM is the online sportsbook partner of the MGM hotel and casino chain. BetMGM is not currently operational in Ohio due to sports betting still needing to be legalized. However, almost every expert. Sports betting is not yet legal in Ohio, but there's reason to believe 2021 could be the year for the Buckeye State. Four of the five states bordering Ohio - West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Indiana and Michigan - already have legal online sports betting.
House Bill 194 would put the Ohio Lottery Commission in charge of regulating the system, and would tax betting receipts at 10%, sending net proceeds to education and gambling-addiction programs. It would allow mobile betting, and also would permit certain veterans’ and fraternal organizations to offer on-site betting through approved state vendors.
House members approved the legislation 83-10, with ‘no’ votes coming from Republicans who are among the chambers more conservative members.
Bill sponsors said legalizing gambling on sports will bring the practice out of the shadows and allow Ohio to raise revenue off something that’s happening already. They also said it will prevent Ohio gamblers from taking their money to bordering states.
Democratic State Rep. Brigid Kelley, a bill sponsor along with Republican state Rep. David Greenspan of Westlake, said a sign in her Cincinnati district advertises sports wagering just 20 minutes away — across the Indiana border.
“So Ohioans who want to wager on sports have to go spend their money somewhere else in another state,” she said. “Well it’s either that or they call ‘their guy,’ or that’s how how I understand it. But we can change that.”
The House bill has faced opposition from socially conservative groups that oppose gambling on principle. Sports leagues and teams have pushed for the bill to require operators to use official league data, which they say would protect the integrity of sports but also allow them to directly profit on sports betting by selling the data to bookmakers.
“The truth is that HB 194 functions as a reverse Robin Hood – taking from the poor and giving to the rich,” leaders with the Center for Community Values, a socially conservative organization, said in a Thursday letter to state lawmakers.
The bill still faces a tough path to becoming law. Ohio Senate leaders and Gov. Mike DeWine both favor regulating sports betting through the state Casino Control Commission. That divide has contributed to the bill becoming bogged down even as other nearby states have legalized their own sports gambling bills.
Both the House and Senate proposals would allow for mobile betting. Neither would raise much money for the state — estimates from the nonpartisan Legislative Service Commission range from $15 million to $20 million in new tax revenues.
Online Sports Betting Ohio
The Senate version would levy a 6.25% tax, with proceeds going into the state’s general fund, instead of being earmarked specifically for education.
Other states have moved to legalize sports betting since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in legal in 2018, including most of Ohio’s neighbors. In December, Michigan became the fourth state neighboring Ohio to pass a legalization bill. While a Kentucky legislative committee advanced a sports gaming bill in January for full House vote, the bill has stalled since then.
The House on Thursday also approved House Bill 282, which makes it legal for charitable organizations to operate “electronic bingo” machines that resemble slot machines. The bill would expand existing laws that allow charitable organizations to offer paper “instant bingo” games, similar to lottery tickets. The bill has been backed by fraternal organizations which view the games as a way to raise revenue.
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Like the blue-collar state that it is, Ohio is going slow and steady in its two-year march toward legalizing sports betting.
After not getting so much as a committee vote in 2019 despite eight hearings held in the House Finance Committee and sitting dormant for nearly the first half of 2020, the Ohio sports betting bill came to life before summer recess.
The Ohio House passed the bill on May 28. The plan is for House and Senate leaders to work out their differences on the matter during the break so that the Senate can move the bill when it comes back in September.
The future of Ohio sports betting
With a legislative schedule that goes to the end of the year, Ohio probably has the best chance of any state to legalize sports betting during the second half of 2020.
The primary sponsors of the OH sports betting bills believe the House and Senate versions are 90% similar.
The biggest difference is on what regulatory body would oversee the industry. The Senate wants the Ohio Casino Control Commission in charge while the bill passed by the House pegs the Ohio Lottery Commission.
This divide has existed since early 2019 with no attempt at a resolution, but Rep. Dave Greenspan, after getting H 194 through, said that he plans to meet with Senate sponsor Sen. John Eklund this summer.
Gov. Mike DeWine has said he wants an Ohio sports betting bill passed before the November election.
When will online sports betting launch in Ohio?
Both proposals include statewide mobile sports betting in Ohio with remote registration.
Four of the five states surrounding Ohio — Pennsylvania, Michigan, Indiana and West Virginia — have legalized online wagering.
If the legislative effort to legalize OH sports betting this year succeeds, Ohioans are likely to have online wagering sometime in 2021.