Ohio throws a few more curve balls in the sports betting process


Ohio’s sportsbook bill has changed again.

Only this time the proposals are part of Bill 29, a measure to create veteran identity cards. The modified HB 29, which was passed by the Ohio Senate on June 24, would also allow college athletes in the state to enjoy their name, image and likeness.

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State lawmakers are scrambling to pass a myriad of bills before summer recess begins later this week. This led to late-night changes by the Ohio Senate on June 24 that were bizarre even by government standards.

As Jessie Balmert of the Cincinnati Enquirer detailed, a bipartisan NIL bill was derailed when Republicans in the Ohio House of Representatives amended Senate Bill 187 to prohibit transgender athletes from participating in female and female sports. When Democrats objected, the HB 29 became the new vehicle for NIL legislation, as well as a sports betting bill passed by the Senate that was very likely to generate significant opposition in the House.

The result: a new HB 29, which passed the Ohio Senate by a 31-0 margin on June 24, but has yet to be approved by the House and Gov. Mike DeWine. And House Speaker Bob Cupp, as he did before the last-minute scramble, continued to stress after the approval of the new HB 29 that the latest round of sports betting changes will not pass until the lawmakers don’t take an extended summer break.

The Ohio Senate made significant changes on June 24 that appear to make sports betting more likely to pass the House. Most notable is to allow counties with a population of 800,000 or more to a maximum of five Type B licenses. Previously, the largest counties in the state were limited to three physical sports betting.

Population limits were significant issues in Cuyahoga and Hamilton counties, and could have been problematic in Franklin County. Cuyahoga County is home to three major professional sports teams, the Browns, Cavs and Indians, as well as a casino (JACK Cleveland) and a racino (JACK Thistledown). Hamilton County, which would have been limited to two retail licenses by Senate Bill 176, has a casino and a racino, as well as the Cincinnati Bengals, Cincinnati Reds and FC Cincinnati.

With sports teams getting the first dibs at a Type B license, casinos and racinos could have been left out.

Of the 21 states, along with Washington, DC, that have a fully functioning sports betting industry, none base eligibility on county population, and none have prevented physical casinos from obtaining a retail license.

“This is unlike any bill we’ve seen,” Dan Reinhard, senior vice president of government affairs for JACK, told Crain’s on June 24 – more than 12 hours before the Ohio Senate did abandons some of what he did with the SB 176 the changes to HB 29.

The latest version of sports betting legislation in the state seems sure to allay the concerns of Ohio’s 11 casinos and racinos. The new county limits would mean that casinos and racinos would have retail sports betting, and betting houses, unlike sports teams, could have up to two Type A licenses. State would be limited to a single mobile and online betting license. (The teams, as they would for a physical bookmaker, would partner with an outside company to manage the mobile sports betting operation.)

Jay Masurekar, head of gaming and travel investment banking at KeyBanc Capital Markets in Cleveland, told Crain’s last week that he believes additional casino traffic from sportsbook customers could produce a 25% increase in gaming revenue for casinos and racinos. According to Masurekar’s calculations, this income would be taxed at the state rate of 33% for gambling, generating a tax peak of $ 146 million.

When asked if it made sense that Cleveland’s top three professional sports teams, as well as the downtown casino, all have retail sports betting, Key’s executive replied, “Why not?”

The typical sports bettor, Masurekar said, is a male, well-educated, and younger – a demographic who might tend to live or frequent downtown Cleveland.

There is no guarantee that all clubs will choose to create a retail bookie, but teams all want at least an opportunity to pursue one. Last week, we checked with the Browns, Cavs and Indians ahead of the last minute changes in the Ohio Senate on June 24. The teams declined to comment on SB 176 as so much had changed in the past two months, and a little more could this summer.

Curt Steiner, CEO of Columbus-based Steiner Public Relations, is the spokesperson for the Ohio Professional Sports Coalition. The coalition is made up of the state’s eight major professional sports teams, as well as the Memorial Tournament.

“What’s really important about sports franchises is that these are local operations that are very deep in the communities of Ohio,” Steiner told Crain’s last week. “Our members produce the games on which sports betting is based. That is why it is very important that these local businesses are directly involved in the process.”

Regardless of how the state conducts sports betting this week, teams appear to be a big part of the industry going forward.

Ohio’s proposed 10% sports betting profit tax is also likely to remain.

Four states that border Ohio – Indiana, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia – have legal sports betting markets. The quartet has had average catches of 7.5% to 8.1% since the industry was legalized.

After SB 176 passed by 30-2 on June 16, an Ohio Legislative Services Commission analysis predicted the state could have a $ 2.8 billion sports betting industry by now. 2023. By 2024, the market is expected to exceed $ 3 billion. This, according to estimates by the Legislative Budget Office, could mean $ 19 to 24 million in tax revenue for the state.

The 10% tax rate, which could encourage more companies to get involved and should produce a “more open framework,” was one of the few things that Masurekar, KeyBanc Capital Markets’ senior gaming analyst, said. liked about the SB 176.

But now we’re at HB 29, and sports betting still doesn’t seem to be heading for approval this week.

At the very least, all the maneuvering in recent months seems to indicate that Ohio should pass a sports betting law this year.

We wouldn’t be willing to bet, however, on the changes to come and which bands will be the last to push for more rewrites.


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