In the Midwestern state of Ohio and legislators have reportedly taken the first steps towards the legalization of retail and online sportsbetting as well as the licensing of electronic instant bingo.
According to a Wednesday report from the Cincinnati Enquirer newspaper, the moves were contained in Senate Bill 176 passed by the Ohio State Senate via a 30-to-two vote yesterday. The measure, which will now need to be ratified by the Ohio House of Representatives and Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, seeks to allow entities in ‘The Buckeye State’ to apply for one of 58 land-based and remote sportsbetting licenses.
The newspaper reported the legislation envisions making 33 bricks-and-mortar sportsbetting licenses available to any of the state’s casinos, racinos and businesses authorized to sell alcohol alongside a further 25 permits for the provision of online wagering. The measure would purportedly also institute a $1 million licensing fee for both class of authorizations and place the Ohio Casino Control Commission in charge of selecting suitable applicants and regulating their subsequent operations.
The Cincinnati Enquirer reported that Senate Bill 176 seeks to allow punters to place wagers on a wide range of professional and collegiate sports including action from the National Football League (NFL), National Hockey League (NHL) and National Basketball Association (NBA). It detailed that the legislation would moreover endeavor to spread licensed retail sportsbooks across the state by allowing more populated counties to host multiple betting-friendly facilities.
The newspaper went on to report that the proposed sportsbetting measure would furthermore look to institute a 10% tax on net sportsbook revenues in hopes of bringing in up to $23 million by the middle of next year so as to help fund the state’s public education programs. Proponents of the legislation, which would additionally allow adults to place wagers on competitive video games, purportedly disclosed that they hope Ohio will be able to premiere its first sportsbooks in April while heralding the bill’s commitment to setting aside 2% of any tax proceeds for the support of gambling addiction programs.
The Cincinnati Enquirer reported that Senate Bill 176 would also look to give the five prominent professional sports teams in Ohio as well as the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and the annual Memorial Tournament golf event a preference when applying for retail sportsbetting licenses. All of this would purportedly be complemented by the legalization of electronic instant bingo for veterans and fraternal organizations so long as venues agreed to a cap of ten machines and a five-year ban on promotional credit tax deductions.
However, the newspaper reported that the prospects of Ohio legalizing sportsbetting could ultimately be decided in a courtroom as numerous opponents are claiming that the state’s constitution forbids such activities unless expressly approved via a referendum. One of these naysayers, local attorney Nicholas Pittner, purportedly proclaimed that ‘these issues will likely fall to the courts to decide’ even if Senate Bill 176 survives scrutiny by the Ohio House of Representatives and Governor DeWine.