Legislative Update: Ohio’s Continued Effort to Legalize Sports Betting

In General by Coolidge Wall

In my September 6, 2018 blog post, I discussed the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2018 ruling in Murphy v. National Collegiate Athletic Association, which held that the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (“PASPA”) was unconstitutional. PASPA previously prohibited state-sanctioned sports betting and effectively outlawed sports betting anywhere but Nevada. The Supreme Court’s ruling opened the door for all 50 states to legalize sports betting within their borders.

At the time, I cited two identical “placeholder” bills which 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 Ohio.[1]

In the eighteen months since, new bills have been introduced in both the Ohio House and Senate.[2] H.B. 194, which is sponsored by Rep. Dave Greenspan and Rep. Brigid Kelly, was introduced in the House on April 9, 2019. As introduced, H.B. 194 would legalize, regulate, and tax sports betting in Ohio under the authority of the State Lottery Commission. The bill levies a 10% tax on an operator’s net revenue from sports gaming and operates much in the same way as Ohio’s tax on casino gaming revenue. Notably, in addition to permitting Ohio’s existing casinos and racinos to obtain operator’s licenses, H.B. 194 also contains mechanisms whereby Ohio veterans organizations and fraternal organizations could have a single sports betting terminal at their facility for member use.

In contrast, S.B. 111, which is sponsored by Rep. Jon Eklund and Rep. Sean O’Brien, would give regulatory control to the Ohio Casino Control Commission. The proposed tax on revenues under S.B. 111 is 6.25%, and the bill would not permit veterans or fraternal organizations to have betting terminals at their facilities.

The biggest hurdle for either bill becoming law will be determining which regulatory agency — the Lottery Commission or the Casino Control Commission — is best suited to oversee sports betting. Given the COVID-19 crisis, action on either bill seems unlikely in the near term. However, there is growing sentiment that Ohio will follow states like West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Michigan, all of which have legalized some form of sports betting within their respective borders.

There are likely to be further updates in this evolving field in the coming months, and we are available to answer questions you might have in the interim. Full summaries of H.B. 194 and S.B. 111 have been prepared by the Ohio Legislative Service Commission and are available on the General Assembly’s website.

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. 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 Ohio General Assembly H.B. No. 194, introduced 4/9/19 and S.B. No. 111, introduced 3/14/19.

Disclaimer: The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. We invite you to contact us and welcome your calls, letters and electronic mail. 

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