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Legislative Update: Sports Betting Coming to a City Near You?

In my September 6, 2018 blog post, I discussed the U.S. Supreme Court's May 2018 ruling in Murphy v. National Collegiate Athletic Association, which found the federal Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 ("PASPA") unconstitutional. PASPA prohibited state-sanctioned sports betting and effectively outlawed sports betting outside of Nevada. The Court's ruling opened the door for all 50 states to legalize sports betting within their borders.

At the time, two identical "placeholder" bills (the "Bills") had been introduced in the Ohio House and Senate, both of which made clear the General Assembly's intention to enact legislation legalizing sports betting in the near future.[1]

The Bills have not been updated to provide additional information or details about legalization efforts. However, Governor-Elect Mike DeWine noted in a recent interview that sports betting is "coming to Ohio whether people want it or not."[2] This much seems clear. What is less clear, however, is when Ohioans will be able to legally place wagers.

One potential reason for the hold-up? The Federal Government might want a "piece of the action." On December 19, 2018, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-New York) and Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) introduced The Sports Wagering Market Integrity Act of 2018 (the "Act").[3]

The Act - which has bi-partisan support in Congress - has already garnered support from the NFL and the NCAA, among other sports organizations. If passed, the Act would:

  • Permit states to authorize online sports wagering;
  • Prohibit sports wagers on amateur sporting events except the Olympics and college sports;
  • Prohibit sports wagering by individuals younger than 21 and athletes, coaches, officials, and others associated with sports organizations;
  • Require that sports wagering operators use data provided or licensed by sports organizations to determine the outcome of sports wagers through 2024, and set requirements for data used thereafter;
  • Put in place a variety of consumer protections, including disclosure, advertising, and reserve requirements;
  • Establish recordkeeping and suspicious transaction reporting requirements;
  • Dedicate revenue from a sports wagering excise tax to law enforcement and gambling disorder treatment programs; and
  • Give the U.S. Department of Justice regulatory oversight and the ability to develop minimum regulatory standards for states to follow.[4]

Whether the Act will ultimately pass is unknown, but I expect legislators in Ohio to hold off on legalization efforts until Congress sorts out how (and if) it will be involved. There should be further updates in this evolving field in the coming months, and I am available to answer questions you might have in the interim.

NOTE: This information should not be considered a comprehensive discussion of the legalization of sports betting or the recent legislative endeavors of the Ohio General Assembly or Congress. Nor should it be construed as legal advice.


[1] See Ohio General Assembly H.B. No. 714, introduced 7/17/18, and S.B. No. 316, introduced 7/12/18.

[2] See John Kosich, "Sports betting is coming to Ohio says the state's governor-elect, it's just not clear when", 11/16/18, available at: https://www.news5cleveland.com/news/local-news/cleveland-metro/sports-betting-is-coming-to-ohio-says-the-states-governor-elect-its-just-not-clear-when.

[3] See Sports Wagering Market Integrity Act of 2018, S. 3793, 115th Cong.

[4] See Press Release, "Hatch, Schumer Introduce Bipartisan Sports Betting Integrity Legislation", 12/19/18, available at: https://www.hatch.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/2018/12/hatch-schumer-introduce-bipartisan-sports-betting-integrity-legislation.

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