Ohio is one of the few states that has yet to capitalize on the U.S Supreme Court’s 2018 decision to repeal the 1992 Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act. But despite being left out by neighbors Pennsylvania, Illinois, West Virginia, Indiana, and Michigan which have legalized sports betting in their respective jurisdictions, the Buckeye State is optimistic.
Gov. Mike DeWine says that legal Ohio sports betting is a matter of “when” and not “if”. According to DeWine, legal sports betting in Ohio is “inevitable”. Said DeWine earlier this week:
“Sports gaming’s already in Ohio. Ohio’s just not regulating it. This is something that I think is inevitable. It’s coming to Ohio.”
Big Opportunity Awaits
Both sports bettors and industry observers believe that a big opportunity awaits the Buckeye State once it legalizes sports betting. The Buckeye State has the capacity to offer bettors with plenty of choices. Ohio has 11 casinos and racinos and each could be allowed up to three skins each.
Low tax rates, multiple skins, and a population of 11.54M (7th largest state) could be a boon for sports betting operators in Ohio with Research firm Eilers & Krejcik Gaming forecasting that the market is worth north of $600M.
Unsuccessful in the Past
Efforts to legalize Ohio sports betting have been unsuccessful in the past. In 2019, the Ohio Senate introduced a sports betting bill but it has not seen any movement after more than one year. Last year, a bill to legalize Ohio sports betting passed the House in May. However, the COVID-19 pandemic and 2020 National Elections have delayed the state’s timeline.
Failure to act before the legislative session in December means starting over with a new legislature and three of the primary sponsors of the old legislation are no longer in elective office which could be an issue. Still, DeWine is pretty much confident that 2021 will be the year the Ohio sports betting gets legalized.