Ohio

On July 12, Sens. John Eklund and Sean O’Brien sponsored a bill, SB 316, in a bipartisan effort to allow Ohio sports betting.

As first reported by Cleveland.com, the proposed law is little more than a statement of purpose at this point. The lone bit of language in the bill reads as follows:

“It is the intent of the General Assembly to develop and enact legislation legalizing sports wagering.”

Obviously, the details of enacting such a bill are not available yet. In fact, O’Brien said that the lack of language was intentional.

He went on to say that the intent is to generate interest and comment from the public. He hopes to have specifics in the bill by the end of September.

That timeframe would allow the two sponsors to present the bill in November or December. So far, the bill also has three co-sponsors – Sens. Gardner, Schiavoni, and Yuko.

The senators have a vision for Ohio sports betting

O’Brien said that he and Eklund are focusing on how sports betting legislation is proceeding in other states. One thing he made clear is that he wants to keep gambling with other gambling.

“My thinking right now is we already have casinos and racinos set up,” O’Brien said. I’d kind of like to keep it in those institutions because they are set up for gaming. I’m not sure we want it in every 7-Eleven …and every bar.”

Part of the motivation for the bill is the proliferation of sports betting in neighboring states. Both Pennsylvania and West Virginia either have or will have sports betting very soon in their states.

O’Brien, for his part, would prefer that Ohioans gamble inside state borders. So far, the people of Ohio have agreed with him – they passed a constitutional amendment to allow gambling in 2009.

Sports betting in Ohio would be part of the changing landscape in the US

Having a sportsbook in Cleveland or Cincinnati would have been unthinkable a year ago. However, everything changed in the United States when the Supreme Court struck down  PASPA.

In the two months since, six states have legalized sports betting to join Nevada. Besides Pennsylvania and West Virginia, bettors can also wager on sports or soon wager on sports in New Jersey, Delaware, Mississippi, and Rhode Island.

More states are likely to follow these early adopters. So, these two Ohio senators have introduced a bill that is quite timely. Hopefully, for the sake of Ohioans, it turns out to be a good one.