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With the end of the legislative session on the horizon, Ohio legislators are making a move to get a sports betting bill passed.
Two bills, one in the state House and another in the Senate, are making their way through the process to see if they can grab enough support to become the foundation for betting in Ohio.
The two bills offer a chance for limited operators to handle betting or for more than 1,200 veterans groups and fraternal lodges to offer sports wagering at their facilities.
One bill would put the state’s Casino Control Commission as overseer of sports betting, while the other would fold wagering under the umbrella of the Ohio Lottery Commission.
There are several choices to be made by lawmakers but they are running out of time.
The House bill, co-sponsored by Republican representative Dave Greenspan and Democrat Brigid Kelly, acknowledges that sports betting will not create millions in revenue.
“The purpose of doing this is to make it legal, make it constitutional, follow the (federal) wire act, and provide funding for gambling addiction services and education,” Rep Greenspan.
“The revenue is not going to be that significant…$30 million, rising eventually to $60 million and $100 million,” he continued.
“It’s not going to be, as people have projected, hundreds of millions of dollars for the state.”
With the recess date of June 30 looming large over lawmakers, Rep. Greenspan expects a vote on his proposal soon.
The Senate bill, sponsored by Republican Sen. John Eklund and Democrat Sen. Sean O’Brien is moving even slower than the House counterpart.
Introduced in March, Senate Bill 111 has not been assigned to a committee or even had a single hearing.
The Senate bill would give authority over sports betting to the Casino Control Commission in the state.
Opposition to the Senate bill, claims that by allowing sports betting in the four voter-approved casinos and seven racetracks that the state would be creating a monopoly.
House Bill 194 would give regulation duties to the Lottery Commission.
Sen. Eklund is against giving the authority over sports betting to the Lottery Commission, writing in a recent op-ed that Ohio should be led by those who are in the casino industry.
“If Ohio is to legalize sports gaming, it should be done under the authority of an existing agency,” he wrote.
“(An agency) that has a demonstrated track record of effectively monitoring, controlling, and policing casino-based gambling operations.”
Rep. Greenspan argues that his bill is written for interpretation and room to adjust the law.
“The (House) bill is written broadly so that the lottery commission has wide breadth of authority so that we do not have to come back and have the legislature change this as the industry evolves,” Mr. Greenspan said.
“The other thing to keep in mind is that the casino commission only regulates. It does not operate. It only has four (privately owned) facilities. They do not regulate racinos.”
“The lottery commission is a regulator and an operator,” he said. “They are also engaged with the racinos.”
Both bills will continue to make their way through the process but they are a long shot to be approved before the June 30th recess.
Most betting experts believe that sports betting in Ohio will not be passed until lawmakers return in the fall of 2019.
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