The Ohio senate passed a bill that would legalize sports betting in the Buckeye State Wednesday afternoon by a whopping 30-2 margin with one senator abstaining from the vote.
The bill now heads to the house and if it passes through the lower chamber, it will head to Gov. Mike DeWine’s desk where it could be signed into law. Earlier this year, DeWine called legalized sports betting “inevitable,” making it likely he would sign the legislation into law.
According to a report from the Cincinnati Enquirer, SB 176 passed after several months of hearings on the issue. The bill that eventually passed would allow for both online and retail sports betting within the state’s borders.
It puts 58 sports betting licenses up for grabs, with 33 allotted for brick-and-mortar facilities and another 25 available for online or mobile wagering. Casinos, racinos, professional sports franchises, and other businesses could apply for a retail license, but the $1 million fee will keep smaller businesses from obtaining one.
In a last-minute change to the bill, bars and restaurants that sell alcohol could apply for a “Type C” license that would allow them to put up to two sports betting kiosks in their businesses. These licenses cost much less than the other two with a $6,000 price tag attached to it, although the vendor would need to pay a $100,000 application fee, which would once again keep smaller properties from acquiring it.
Most states that share a border with Ohio have already legalized sports betting. Michigan, Indiana, West Virginia and Pennsylvania all have launched sports betting markets. Kentucky is the only neighboring state without it.
The proposal would put the Ohio Casino Control Commission in charge of distributing the licenses and regulating the market. Betting on all professional and collegiate sporting events would be allowed, including college games that take place in the state.
Operators would pay a 10% tax rate to the state, most of which would fund the state’s public education programs, with 2% of it funding problem gambling programs. It is estimated that passing the bill would bring in between $17 million and $23 million in additional annual tax revenue.
If everything goes smoothly and DeWine signs the bill this session, the earliest Ohioans could start placing bets would be April 1, 2022.
It’s not guaranteed to be passed this session, however. While it seems that those in the House are at least sympathetic to sports betting, it’s reported that they are already preparing a lot of changes to the bill before they send it to DeWine.