If one word can describe the current state of Ohio’s sports betting legislation right now, it’s this: Welp.
As in, welp, nice try, senators, in your attempt to attach yet another amended version of the sports betting bill to a veterans ID card proposal at the last minute in an effort to get the House of Representatives to vote “yes” on it.
Nice try, because according to a report in the Cincinnati Enquirer, it failed, which means it’s going to be at least autumn 2021 before the House takes up the bill in one way or another.
House Speaker Bob Cupp told the newspaper he won’t be entertaining the bill until after summer break.
“The revised version that was sent over may fit the bill,” Cupp said. “We just don’t know.”
Cupp further explained that he wasn’t going to put the measure up for vote until House members held their own hearings on sports betting. For the sake of comparison, the Ohio Senate Select Committee on Gaming met weekly for three months before introducing the bill.
— Jessie Balmert (@jbalmert) June 25, 2021
A crazy 24 hours
It has been a crazy 24 hours for the Ohio State Legislature, with the constitutionally mandated June 30 date to get a budget in place at the forefront of all discussions. But it hasn’t stopped lawmakers from monkeying around with other bills, which is how the sports betting bill ended up attached to a bill to create identification cards for veterans.
It started after House Republicans amended a wholly separate piece of legislation, Senate Bill 187, written by Sen. Niraj Antani (who also co-wrote the sports betting bill). That bill, which would allow college athletes to profit off their name, image, and likeness, was set for a House vote when Republicans added language to the bill that would ban transgender athletes from competing in women’s sports.
As a result, Democrats walked away from the previously bipartisan bill, which meant Antani wouldn’t have the votes for the law to take effect immediately.
So Antani added the name, likeness, and image bill — sans the transgender portion — to House Bill 29, the one for veterans IDs. And then, apparently figuring the more the merrier, the sports betting bill — Senate Bill 176 — was also added to House Bill 29 in an attempt to force a vote on the issue, as Cupp had previously said he was not going to bring the sports betting bill to the floor without first holding hearings.
But the sports betting portion of the bill underwent some last-minute changes, mostly in an effort to widen the tent to allow Ohio’s existing casinos entry into the brick-and-mortar sportsbook market.
The now wide-ranging, horse-traded House Bill 29 flew through the Senate 31-0, but Cupp, according to the Enquirer, has put a full stop to the goings-on — at least for now. The House was scheduled to meet Friday afternoon and again on Monday.