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Democrats running for Ohio governor raise questions about sports gambling bill expected Wednesday

 The gaming floor of the Hollywood Casino in Columbus, one of four casinos in operation in Ohio.
Daniel Konik
/
Statehouse News Bureau
The gaming floor of the Hollywood Casino in Columbus, one of four casinos in operation in Ohio.

A conference committee will meet Wednesday to discuss a sports betting bill, an issue lawmakers have been working on since the U.S. Supreme Court legalized it in 2018.

Lawmakers are set to meet Wednesday to hammer out their differences over a bill to legalize sports gambling in Ohio. Rep. Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati) said last week that he and other lawmakers have crafted a possible agreement.

And the two Democrats running for governor say they’re concerned about what the bill will include but also the process they say Republicans are using to get that bill passed.

Cincinnati mayor John Cranley said he’s worried sports betting will land with the Casino Control Commission, which he thinks is unconstitutional.

Cranley said if he’s elected and lawsuits have tied up the bill, he’ll put the Ohio Lottery in charge, with profits going to public schools and with small businesses throughout Ohio getting sports betting opportunities, not just the four casinos.

“I'll appoint members of the Lottery Commission as governor to enact sports betting in a way that will help public schools, not screw public schools and help small towns and businesses throughout Ohio and not screw them," Cranley said.

An analysis from the legislature's researchers said of the bill as passed by the Select Committee on Gaming: "A reviewing court might examine whether the bill unconstitutionally expands gambling in Ohio."

Cranley said putting sports betting under the Lottery would allow for small businesses like bars and other venues to take advantage of sports gambling. But he's especially concerned about the impact on education.

"What they're intending to do is to bypass the constitutional requirement to go to public education by ciphering off some to vouchers and to the schools like they did in the past," Cranley said.

Cranley’s primary opponent, Dayton mayor Nan Whaley, doesn’t have a specific plan but said she’s not happy about the lack of transparency and that in the end, "the state needs to have full oversight".

The Ohio Senate passed a bill earlier this year putting sports gambling under the Casino Control Commission, but then added their sports gambling language to a House bill on veterans ID cards. The House passed a bill last year to put the authority over sports betting with the Ohio Lottery.

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