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Ohio Sports Betting

Editor’s note: As of Jan. 19, 2021

Two competing sports betting bills in the Ohio legislature in 2019 had one key difference – who will run the show?

Of course, beyond that, there are still the “annoying” details such as what bets will be allowed.

HB194 puts control of sports wagering into the hands of the Ohio Lottery Commission with the Ohio Casino Commission as its investigative arm. It also designates the 10 percent tax collected on wagering to education and to fight gambling addiction. Betting would occur at “normal” locations such as veterans and fraternal organizations via kiosks.

SB111 gives full control to the lottery commission to do as they see fit. The Senate bill cites betting would occur at 11 casinos and racinos. The bowling industry, too, would like a piece of the betting pie.

Lawmakers in both Houses seem motivated to approve a sports betting bill as neighboring states – Indiana, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia -- already are reaping the benefits of implemented wagering on sports.

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Another wrinkle is that the Inter-University Council of Ohio is requesting lawmakers take college sports off the betting menu due to concerns student-athletes could be tempted by money to sway game results. If that occurs, Ohioans will have to travel across state lines to bet on the Buckeyes and other college favorites.

Gov. Mike DeWine supports legal sports betting in the state and lawmakers have until the end of the year to knock out a law. 

There were five hearings on Sports Betting Bills and momentum seemed to be strong that it was coming but it just fell short. With Bill sponsors Sen. Sean O'Brien and Sen.John Eklund (defeated and term-limited respectively) both not returning to the Ohio Senate in 2021, it may cause an issue. In the House Dave Greenspan also lost his re-election bid, leaving only one of the four sponsors in both State Houses (Rep. Brigid Kelly) set to sit in the next legislative session.

Is sports betting currently legal in the state?

No, but it is a state to watch closely.

What about horse racing?

Yes, you can place online wagers in the Buckeye State. A host of operators are available to you that includes Bet America, TVG, Twinspires, and AM Wager. Although there are restrictions, for example with AM Wager Ohio residents cannot place wagers at Mahoning Valley or Thistledown.

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