Ohio Senate Passes Sports Betting Bill

Ohio Stadium in Columbus

Lawmakers in the Ohio Senate passed a bill on Wednesday that would legalize sports betting in the state.

Senate Bill 176 was approved 30-2 with Sen. Matt Dolan abstaining from the vote because of his family’s ownership of the MLB team Cleveland Indians.

The legislation would legalize Ohio sports betting, allowing residents to place bets on professional, college, Olympics, and other sports. The bill got a last-minute overhaul with lawmakers increasing the number of licenses offered, giving preference to professional sports teams in Ohio, and adding a new license option for bars while limiting their kiosks to two per location.

Up to 58 Sports Betting Licenses

Per Senate Bill 176, casinos, racinos, and other businesses are allowed to apply for one of up to 58 licenses to offer sports betting. 33 of the 58 licenses would be for brick and mortar gambling shops while 25 will be for mobile and online sports betting. Applicants would be required to pay a fee of $1 million fee and the Ohio Casino Control Commission would be the agency to approve licenses and oversee how they are used.

Due to a late revision in the bill, the brick and mortar licenses would be distributed throughout the state based on the counties’ population. Franklin County, which has more than 1 million resident, could have up to three brick and mortar licenses. Meanwhile, Hamilton County, which is in the next population tier, would be given two.

Addition of a Type C License

Another addition to SB 176 was the inclusion of a Type C license for bars, restaurants, bowling alleys and other similar establishments with a liquor license. A unlimited number of these group can apply for a Type C license at $6,000 each. However, they would be limited to two kiosks per store.

These establishments will be permitted to offer spread bets and over/under bets. It would be up to the Ohio Casino Control Commission to limit how many establishments can provide self-service kiosks. Under the bill, each vendor would be required to pay a $100,000 application fee.

What Else is in the Bill?

Net revenue from sports betting would be taxed at 10%. This would bring an estimated $17-$23 million in tax revenues beginning 2022. The taxes would be used mostly for both public and private K12 education. 2% of the taxes collected will also go to gambling addiction programs. If all goes as planned, Ohio residents could start placing sports bets in early 2022.

Ohio’s professional sports teams, the Memorial Tournament, and a NASCAR event in Ohio will receive preference when applying for a sports betting license. However, they would still need to meet the criteria for application. The bill also allows Ohio fraternal and veterans organizations to have up to 10 electronic bingo machines. These would be regulated by the Ohio Attorney General’s Office and the proceeds would benefit the organization.

Cleveland Cavaliers and Betway Forge Multi-Year Sports Betting Agreement

The Cleveland Cavaliers have entered into a sports betting partnership with Betway in anticipation of the legalization of Ohio sports betting.

Because Ohio sports betting isn’t legal yet, Betway will launch a free-to-play game called “Betway Big Pick” where fans can compete to win cash prizes during every week of the season.

Per Betway chief executive Anthony Wekman:

“We are honoured to enter into a partnership deal with the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Cavs have proved to be one of the most consistent and exciting teams in the NBA in recent years and we’re looking forward to seeing the Betway brand associated with them.”

Multi-Year Integrated Marketing Campaign

The agreement, which will start during the 2021-22 NBA season, includes a multi-year integrated marketing campaign where the Betway brand will be displayed in broadcast-visible signage and commercial reads during Cavaliers’ games at the Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse plus in an out-of-bounds space on the court surface.

Betway will also be advertised via the team’s official digital and social channels while also serving as the official presenting partner of the CavsHQ magazine style TV program on Fox Sports Ohio. In addition, Betway will also be a supporting partner of the Cleveland Wheelchair Cavaliers.

Sports Betting Inevitable in Ohio

Earlier this month, governor Mike DeWine boasted that it is only a matter of time before Ohio sports betting is legalized. A bill to legalize Ohio sports betting is was passed in the Ohio house in May 2020, its timeline has been delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic and the 2020 National elections. The Ohio Senate also introduced its own sports betting bill way back in March 2019 but it has not seen any movement in over one years.

Last January, Senator Matt Huffman announced the formation of an Ohio gambling committee to oversee the state’s gambling industry and to prepare the Buckeye state for the coming change. Committee chairman Sen. Kirk Schuring has made it clear that the state’s sports betting legislation before everyone’s voice is heard.