Ohio Makes a Last-Minute Push to Legalize Sports Betting in 2020
An amended sports betting bill has been introduced in Ohio in a last-ditch attempt to try and make things legal and available before the end of 2020. During a hearing last week, lawmakers adopted the amended bill, which would curtail the number of online sports betting licenses. It’s the latest move in a long-stalled legalization process, and Ohio bettors will be hoping that it is pushed through successfully before the session ends later on in December.
The substitute measure in the amended version of the bill would limit the 11 casinos and racinos within Ohio to a single retail license as well as an online license each. Arguments have been brought forward by industry stakeholders who are opposed to this amendment, which suggests that a competitive marketplace would be limited. However, they see this as the best way to gain political support in the statehouse.
There wasn’t any further action taken on the bill that was introduced on Tuesday, December 8. Backers remain hopeful that a vote will occur before the end of 2020’s session, though.
This month will prove to be the last opportunity to pass the sports betting legislation for three of its four major backers, too. Two Senate sponsors in John Eklund and Sean O’Brien won’t be returning for the 2021 session. Furthermore, a separate House measure means that sponsor Dave Greenspan, who lost his re-election, won’t be coming back, either. Only Brigid Kelly will remain as a major backer in the 2021 session. This would mean that a major leadership void would need to be filled if a new bill has to be introduced in that session.
For now, the hopes rest in the hands of the Senate proposal, although these haven’t advanced out of committee yet. The House bill passed the lower chamber with widespread bipartisan support in May but hasn’t been taken up by the Senate.