Surrounded on all borders by states that already have or soon will move to legalize sports wagering, Ohio finally jumped into the ring last week when state Senator Joe Schiavoni (D-Boardman) announced that he will put forth a bill for Ohio sports betting.
The Buckeye State, home to 11 commercial casinos and racinos, had been quiet on the sports betting front until Schiavoni’s announcement, which came on the heels of the Supreme Court striking down the Professional and Amateur Sports Betting Act on May 14, effectively making sports gambling a states’ rights issue.
According to WKSU, Schiavoni has already opened discussions with fellow lawmakers and gaming stakeholders.
“I also talked to some of the casino owners and operators about the nuts and bolts of this — whether or not it’s just going to be in-person betting, whether or not you’re going to be able to download an app,” he told WKSU on Monday. “There’s some different things that you can look at.”
Lawmaker Says OH Sports Betting Revenue Would Land in the Coffers of Local Governments and School Boards.
In Ohio, the bulk of the tax proceeds from gambling are already earmarked for use by local governments and school districts. Schiavoni said in a story on YogoNet.com that additional revenue from sports betting would help bolster those budgets.
“Our local communities don’t have the budgets to fill pothole-riddled streets, and schools are either forced to cut essential programs or put levies on the ballot,” he said. “This bill will help address some of these funding issues… It’s my goal that this will result in a strong, bipartisan proposal that will be ready for the legislature to take up in the fall.”
Sports betting is among the issues that gubernatorial candidates in Ohio have been discussing. Schiavoni, who finished third in the Democratic gubernatorial primary earlier this month, is among several candidates who support the idea.
Ohio borders two states outside of Nevada that have already legalized sports betting – Pennsylvania to the east and West Virginia to the southeast. Since the Supreme Court ruling last week, Michigan lawmakers are moving quickly to make sports betting legal while Indiana lawmakers started a study committee to review the topic and a Kentucky legislator introduced a bill to allow sports betting at horse racetracks in 2017.
The Ohio General Assembly meets year-round, but takes a summer break beginning late next month.