The Ohio Senate Select Committee on Gaming met for the third time on Wednesday, with statements from stakeholders who support the legalization of Ohio sports betting. But the hearing didn’t proceed without a surprise as the state’s groceries said that they want a piece of the Ohio sports betting pie – the supermarkets.
Lobbyist Joe Ewig, who spoke in behalf of Ohio Grocers Association, said that the members of his group want to be part of the action if the state legalizes Ohio sports betting.
According to Ewig, Ohio’s grocers are capable of taking sports bets. The supermarket trade association has roughly 500 members and last year, Ewig said that they sold more than 313 million lottery tickets.
“We recognize that in Ohio there are many different concepts and suggestions for how sports games should work and be structured. To that end, we are not here today to advocate the opening of a sports betting in every grocery store and setting up tables at our locations or on our islands. However, we ask you to consider making us part of the sports gaming system.
Sports Betting in Grocery Stores
Ewig wants the Ohio Lottery to create some kind of sports betting product that can be offered by the grocery stores. Ideally, Ewig said that sports betting can be done using the existing lottery terminals that are already in place and functioning in grocery stores and supermarkets.
This kind of model would work, per Ewig, because a large volume of customers enter supermarkets daily. According to Ewig, customers are often in these stores because these are considered “safe locations” by customer.
Other than Ewig’s group, the discussion focused on the main talking points of Ohio sports betting: the 8-10% tax rate, provision for three skins per casino, and how legalization of Ohio sports betting will protect state bettors from illegal offshore betting.
Ohio Sputters After Fast Start
Back in 2018, it looked like Ohio would be one of the first states to take advantage of the Supreme Court’s repeal of the 1992 Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act. The then newly-elected Governor Mike DeWine indicated that he was open to the legalization of sports betting in the Buckeye State.
As legislators started the legalization process, Ohio sports betting met its first challenge when the Assembly and Senate passed two different bills. The Assembly wanted to put the Ohio State Lottery in charge of Ohio sports betting However, the Senate wanted to place the Ohio Casino Control Commission as Ohio sports betting regulator.
Despite the delay, observers felt that Ohio would be able to legalize sports betting in 2020. But COVID-19 came and derailed those plans. Now they are starting from the bottom again.