Ohio's sports betting future is surrounded by uncertainty with Thursday's budget failing to include revenue for sports betting
Most recently, the state of Ohio deemed to be the only state that could successfully legalise sports betting during 2020 without a voter referendum. However, just a week after national elections, it is now uncertain what may happen next.
Senators Dave Greenspan (Republican), John Eklund (Republican) and Sean O’Brien (Democrat), whom are seen to be essential bill sponsors will not be returning in 2021. Eklund, the key figure in the Senate, has term-limited out, and both O’Brien and Greenspan lost re-election bids.
The state of Massachusetts is the only other state that still possesses a legislature were lawmakers continue to discuss sports betting. Having said that, the General Court does not look like it will legalise sports betting this year.
Moreover, the House of Representatives is expected to publicise its budget this Thursday, however, it will not include revenue for sports betting.
Earlier this year, towards the end of the summer, Eklund stated during an interview with the Sports Handle that the sports betting legislation will be put on the sidelines until a new president is elected.
Measures in both chambers; have supported statewide mobile sports wagering, do not authorise the use of official league data and set the licensing fee at a hefty $100,000. The main differences are on tax rate and who the regulator will be.
Bill SB 111 which is spearheaded by Eklund (pictured left), sees tax rates set at 6.25% which is directed towards wagering revenue and includes the Casino Control Commissions as the regulator.
On the other hand, Greenspan`s house bill HB 194, proposes a tax rate of 10% whilst placing the Ohio Lottery as the regulator.
However, Greenspan's House bill HB 194 would involve the installment of 1,250 sports betting terminals within 90 days of the bill’s effective date, and another 1,250 within the following 90 days. These installments will need to be carried out by the Ohio Lottery.
Draft bill with unanimity being circulated:
It has been reported that a 'draft of compromise' has been floating around Columbus. The draft is indicating that the set tax rate could possibly be at 8%. Additionally, in September, the sponsors of the house had agreed to appoint the Casino Control Commission as the regulator but that doesn’t mean the full House will agree, according to Eklund.
According to HB 194, the state would rake in $1.3 million in licence fees from the first year whereas overall tax revenue from sports betting would be minimal but has the potential to reach over $23 million per annum by 2023. On the other hand, SB 111 projected that the state would generate $1.2 million in licence fees in the first year, while tax revenue will reach $20 million by 2022 and experience steady growth after that year. HB 194 will be the one to most likely to move forward since it passed the House in June 2020 and was sent to the Senate whereas SB 111 has not moved since October 2019.
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