The bill to legalize sports gambling in Ohio is not even a week old. And it was changed even before its first hearing on Wednesday.
The bill makes changes in the two types of licenses that will be set up for sports betting in Ohio. Each license will cost $1 million.
The 20 Type A licenses for the four casinos and seven racinos can contract with an unlimited number of mobile apps.
The 20 Type B licenses for brick and mortar sportsbooks can be awarded to casinos or racinos too, and the Casino Control Commission can pick who gets them through a regional economic growth factor.
But sponsoring Sen. Niraj Antani (R-Miamisburg) said Ohio Lottery retailers can run sports betting pools in this bill.
“They're going to be held to account just as the casinos and racinos would," Antani said in an interview for "The State of Ohio". "But I think especially when you're going to be able to bet on your mobile phone, why can't you bet at a lottery retailer?”
The bill would also legalize e-bingo at fraternal and veterans’ organizations.
Smaller communities had complained that sports betting only at casinos and racinos would give them an unfair monopoly. The Ohio Fair Gaming Coalition also said allowing lottery retailers to provide sports betting would give those communities an opportunity to share in what's expected to be a multi-billion dollar industry in Ohio.
And Antani said more changes are likely as the bill moves through the legislature.
“I oppose an expansion of gambling. But I also understand that if we don't do it, the casinos will once again buy their way into the ballot. That's unacceptable," Antani said. "I'd rather have we as the people's representatives do this than have them do it through the ballot.”
An analysis from the Legislative Service Commission, the office that researches legislation for state lawmakers, said there is a question about whether sport betting through the lottery is constitutional. But Antani said he thinks the 2018 US Supreme Court decision was clear that it’s allowed.