Ohio takes first steps in lengthy journey to bring legalized sports betting to the state

Posted at 7:22 AM, Jul 30, 2018

The effort to bring sports betting to Ohio is moving forward this summer in the state legislature nearly three months after the U.S. Supreme Court opened the door in May for legalized bets on sports in states outside of mainly Nevada.

"We've had two bills introduced called placeholder bills expressing the intent of the general assembly to investigate sports wagering in Ohio and if we're to do it, how is it going to be done," said State Senator John Eklund, a Republican from Geauga County who sponsored the Senate version with State Rep. David Greenspan introducing a similar bill in the house.

"What we're doing over in the Senate is we're assembling a list of parties who might be interested in this particular type of legislation, anticipating that we will take a series of meetings with them to sort of get the lay of the land and to sort of see where people's temperature is," Eklund said. "Starting with that process do the necessary investigation we have to do to come up with a concrete proposal that we would then present to the general assembly in some sort of an amended bill or a substitute bill."

If you're looking to place a legal bet on the Browns winning the Super Bowl this year in Ohio, you're going to have to wait. While other states are rushing to get legislation passed and sports books open, Greenspan said they want to make sure they get it right.

"We're looking at this with a holistic approach," Greenspan said. "We have no pre-conceived timeline as to when we want to introduce something as the bill comes together. We're going to work together with the Senate and the house to come up with a comprehensive bill. It's one issue, it's one policy we've got two chambers and we're going to work collectively and collaboratively to come up with a program that we believe will be in the best interest of the residents of Ohio and help promote our economy as well," he said.

One of the keys for any state moving forward with sports betting is striking a balance between how much a sports book operator will have to pay regarding a buy-in fee and what the tax rate the state will demand on winnings after bets are paid. Sports betting traditionally brings in less money for the casinos than slots and especially table games. It plays a big role in generating foot traffic and other spending.

"We're at the very early stages but heaven knows there's plenty of interest been expressed about this and we intend to be very deliberative and thoughtful in how we go about investigating this," Eklund said.