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Government/Politics

Sports Betting Awaits Ohio Lawmakers After Summer Break

Quicken Loans Arena, now Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse, during 2016 NBA Finals
Karen Kasler
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Quicken Loans Arena, now Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse, during 2016 NBA Finals

With the budget bill signed into law, legislators are looking ahead for the next big issues to be tackled after summer break. Among the conversations that'll take place between now and when lawmakers return will be the future of sports betting in Ohio.

While approaching the June 30 budget deadline, the Ohio Senate made one last push for a sweeping law to legalize sports betting in the state.

But House Speaker Bob Cupp (R-Lima) said on June 24 that passing that bill would be an ""extremely high lift" before the end of the month.

"Would I like to do it? Sure, but I would like to have it go through committee, have hearings, and that sort of thing as well," Cupp said.

The Senate has spent the last few months working on a bill, SB176, that would allow for sports betting along with other forms of gaming, including e-bingo at fraternal halls and charitable organizations and a exploring the possibility of an online platform for lottery games.

A coalition of Ohio's professional sports teams has been pushing to legalize sports betting with most surrounding states already doing so, with the exception of Kentucky. Coalition spokesperson Curt Steiner says it's a way to engage fans.

"I wouldn't call this a crisis, it's just a missed opportunity for Ohio. I think the legislature realizes it, the legislature I believe wanted to get it done at the end of June, they just ran out of time," says Steiner.

The Senate betting plan created three types of licenses, to allow gambling through mobile devices (Type A license), in-person (Type B License), and at self-service kiosks (Type C License).

In the language amended into HB29, Ohio would allow for up to 25 Type A licenses, 40 Type B licenses, and 20 Type C licenses.

The language in SB176 only allows 33 licenses for the Type B category.

While the legislature did not act on the comprehensive sports betting bill, it did legalize e-bingo at fraternal houses and charitable organizations through the budget bill.

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