A bill to legalize brick-and-mortar sportsbooks and mobile betting platforms has been introduced in Ohio, one of the remaining large market potential states without active legislation on file.
Shell legislation consisting of just 15 words was filed last year, indicating that the Ohio legislature wanted to take up the issue in 2019. Ohio’s new governor, Republican Mike DeWine, has also indicated he supports the legalization of sports betting in his state.
Under the bill filed late Thursday by state Senators John Eklund, a Republican, and Sean O’Brien, a Democrat, the Buckeye State could have one of the most lucrative markets in the nation. The legislation is Senate Bill 111, and it’s 146 pages.
According to a 2017 study from Oxford Economics, Ohio has the potential to see more than $9 billion in annual sports betting handle and more than $600 mm in taxable gaming revenue off that, assuming state-of-the-art adoption. Fortunately for Ohio, the bill looks to be a good one on first reading.
The legislation for Ohio was overdue considering that Pennsylvania and West Virginia have sportsbooks, and Indiana, Michigan, and Kentucky all are in active discussions regarding the contours of a regulatory framework.
Mobile sports betting provisions
The legislation looks to be industry-friendly in terms of online sports betting. All of the aforementioned Ohio neighbors either have legalized mobile or are considering it, so Ohio would not be competitive with brick-and-mortar sportsbooks alone. Consider that in New Jersey, mobile wagers represented 80 percent of all wagers placed in February, when licensed sportsbooks saw nearly $320 mm in bets.
Here are two key provisions:
A sports wagering operator may accept a wager from an individual physically located within this state using a mobile or other digital platform through the individual’s sports wagering account.
A sports wagering account may be established and funded in person through employees or sales agents of a sports wagering operator or, pursuant to rules adopted by the commission, over the internet through a sports wagering operator’s web site or mobile application in a manner that complies with the internal controls of the sports wagering operator.
Ohio will consider allowing remote registration, a crucial component to an intra-state sports betting market.
Eklund originally was hesitant about mobile, but after learning more about the industry, he evolved.
“My thinking on [mobile] is evolving,” Eklund told US Bets in an interview last month. “When I first contemplated the idea, I thought it was kooky, frankly, because I was ignorant, but I am learning more and more that there are many vendors out there who profess to have the means by which to maintain the security in that space, to maintain integrity. So I guess I am to the point where now I would say, yeah, I see where that would be something worth considering.”
The bill has a clear limitation on brands/skins. Also of note, Gov DeWine is supposed to announce his budget tomorrow. Timing of this suggests revenue from sports betting will be included. https://t.co/1LFxgR87NT
— John A Pappas (@yanni_dc) March 14, 2019
Under the bill, sports betting revenue would be taxed at a 6.25% rate.
Operators would pay a $100k application fee. According to the bill, casinos and licensed video lottery facilities would be eligible to apply, but not online-only sportsbooks, such as FanDuel or DraftKings. In that case, the DFS outlets might have to find partners with existing license holders.
Ohio has until the end of the year to pass the legislation, so the Buckeye State has plenty of time.