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Ohio making another play at legalizing sports betting

May 6, 2021 GMT

TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) — The latest proposal for legalizing sports betting in Ohio calls for bringing it to casinos, betting shops, sports bars, computers, mobile phones and maybe even pro sports stadiums.

After months of listening to ideas, Republican lawmakers in the state Senate rolled out a plan Thursday morning that would allow 40 sports betting licenses to be issued in the state for taking wagers on professional and college sports.

Half of those would be available to the state’s casinos and horse racing tracks called racinos, which could then partner with outside companies to provide sports betting online or mobile apps.

The other 20 licenses would be for brick-and-mortar locations that could include casinos, racinos, sports bars or betting shops where people can watch and wager on games.

Ohio’s pro sports teams are among those that could apply for the type of licenses that allow in-game betting, said Schuring, a Canton Republican.

“We think it’s going to be an economic development tool for Ohio,” he said.

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The administration of Republican Gov. Mike DeWine is reviewing the bill, spokesperson Dan Tierney said. In March, DeWine said, “Sports gaming is already in Ohio. Ohio’s just not regulating it. This is something that I think is inevitable. It’s coming to Ohio.”

An official from the Inter-Ohio University Council, which represents the state’s 14 publicly funded universities, told a Ohio House committee in 2019 that the organization opposed betting on college games. A message seeking comment was left with the council on Thursday.

Ohio lawmakers have been going back-and-forth on legalized sports betting for more than two years. It has caught on quickly in other states after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 2018 allowed for it to be legalized in every state

Neighboring Pennsylvania, Michigan and Indiana offer sports betting online and at casinos.

Backers of the newest proposal hope the Ohio Legislature will approve it by the end of June. The bill will head to the House after Senate hearings and approval.

Each three-year license would cost $1 million, Schuring said, although that could change once state lawmakers begin ironing out the details.

It’s not clear yet how much money a 10% tax on gaming revenue would generate.

“This is not about revenue generation,” Schuring said.

Illegal sports gambling already is happening in Ohio and “all we want to do is put guardrails around it to make sure its done correctly,” Schuring said.

The Ohio Casino Control Commission would oversee sports betting regulations under the proposal.

The bill would authorize the Ohio Lottery Commission to run sports pools for people to wager on the outcome of games or a series of games. Bettors would pay $20 to enter a pool with the money divided equally among winners minus the commission’s 10% take.

The legislation also calls for allowing electronic bingo at the state’s veteran’s and fraternal organizations.

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Gillispie reported from Cleveland.