COLUMBUS – After years of debate, Ohioans may soon be betting on their favorite sports teams.
Senator Kirk Schuring, R-Canton, is expected to release details of a gambling bill on Thursday. The bill was developed after weeks of contributions from casinos, sports franchises, universities, grocers, fraternal organizations and bowling alley operators.
Twenty-six states allow sports betting after a 2018 U.S. Supreme Court ruling opened the option. Ohio has fallen behind nearly all of its neighboring states in the race for legal sports gambling.
A key dispute over who should oversee Ohio sports betting appears to be resolved. Lawmakers have reached consensus that the Ohio Casino Control Commission, which regulates the four Ohio casinos, will be in charge, President Bob Cupp of R-Lima said on Wednesday.
But that doesn’t mean the Ohio Lottery Commission can’t play a role, Cupp added. Lobbyists at grocery stores, bowling alleys and other groups with lottery terminals want a slice of the sports betting pie, which could gross up to $ 600 million annually.
The lottery money pays for education from kindergarten to grade 12. One third of the gross revenues of casinos are distributed to the state, counties, schools and cities where the casinos are located.
One question is how many licenses will be allowed for online sports betting. Ohio professional sports teams have recommended 20: one for racinos and state casinos, and one for each of the state’s professional sports franchises and the PGA Memorial Tournament.
Another question is whether Ohioans will be able to bet on college games and athletes. The Ohio Interuniversity Council, which represents the state’s 14 public universities, has called on lawmakers to exempt college sports from gambling in Ohio.
The proposed legislation could evolve quickly. “The goal of doing sports betting before recess for the summer is a high priority,” Cupp said.