Ohio Could Soon Vote on Bill to Legalize Sports Betting

Ohio Could Soon Vote on Bill to Legalize Sports Betting

As more and more places in the United States continue to legalize sports betting, Ohio remains one of the biggest holdouts. Though legislation has been proposed in the form of HB 29, there has been very little movement on the subject, even as the state saw a stark decrease in local revenue streams over the past 24 months. Not even seeing nearby states like Illinois adjust their stance on sports betting has driven Ohio to action. It has made many wonder whether a real change will ever come.

Well, as it turns out, real change may be on the horizon. Ohio could soon vote on a bill to legalize sports betting in certain forms across the state. 

But how soon? And what does this vote actually mean? And what can it actually do? Do we have a chance of seeing legal sports betting in Ohio over the near term?

Let's break it all down.

Ohio May Vote on Sports Betting Bill in November

There is a chance that Ohio's vote on HB 29 comes immediately. According to many different news outlets, the state could tackle the bill when the conference committee has their next meeting—which is scheduled to take place sometime in the beginning of November.

This news comes as a major surprise. As of October 25, a little more than a week before the conference committee is set to convene, the bill was not on their agenda. At the last second, however, the original Ohio sports betting bill, known as SB 176, was tacked on to the HB 29 bill, which was originally supposed to be strictly a proposal that permitted certain residents in Ohio to obtain state-issued Veteran ID cards.

It isn't yet clear why SB 176 was elevated to the conference committee in the 11th hour, especially because a select group of officials proposed it be added to HB 29 all the way back in June only to see the issue get tabled and subsequently buried. The latest decision is truly one that has come out of left field.

Will the Sports Betting Bill be Voted into Effect?

This is a tough question to answer given the political climate in Ohio.

Conservative-leaning states have generally been more hesitant to embrace legal sports betting. Though Ohio teetered on the edge of transitioning to majority liberalism around the 2020 presidential election, it ultimately remains an overwhelmingly red state. That is viewed as the primary cause for why the sports betting bill has been tabled for so long despite the senate approving it roughly forever ago.

Still, HB 29—which, again, now houses the SB 176 sports betting bill—is not without its supporters in Ohio. Republican Governor Mike DeWine has said on a number of occasions he will sign sports betting into law if given the opportunity. And he may finally get it. If the two sides of the conference committee vote to pass HB 29, it will then go to the governor's desk, which is ostensibly the final step in the process.

Whether the conference committee gives it the green light is anyone's guess. Some experts remain skeptical it will actually be voted on in November. But given how much local economies have been hit during the coronavirus pandemic, there are those who believe the revenue stream inherent of legalized sports betting ensures the conference committee will end up sending HB 29 to DeWine's desk—in which case this is all a formality.

What Will Sports Betting Look Like in Ohio?

If HB 29 gets passed and signed into law, Ohio will then be tasked with handing out three different type of sports-betting licenses:

  • Type A: These licenses include state entities that have the capacity to accept a bet (i.e. casinos and racinos)
  • Type B: These licenses will be given to those who plan to eventually set up on-site sportsbooks.
  • Type C: These licenses allow for the installment of sports betting kiosks at retail establishments already in possession of liquor licenses.

Certain population and operational restrictions apply to each license type. The biggest takeaway, though, is that sports franchises with access to or ownership of stadiums and arenas will no longer be considered automatic recipients of Type B licenses. They will have to go through the application process just like everyone else seeking to snag Type B or Type C capabilities. 

Most sports organizations will probably put in bids to get a license given the revenue potential. But there could be certain teams and companies that don't want to pony up extra funds should Ohio limit the number of Type B licenses it gives out.

How Soon Could Ohio Get Legal Sports Betting?

Assuming the sports betting bill passes, there will be a mandatory 90-day wait period to get things started. It is during this time the state will solicit and accept bids for online licenses and oversee the construction of brick-and-mortar betting providers.

Going by that timeline, Ohio could see legal sports betting arrive state-wide by February 2022. They might opt for a longer timeline, depending on how long they take to go through the licensing process, but the expectation is they'll want to get up and running before the end of the first financial quarter.

Even if we presume a slightly longer timeline, it sure seems like Ohio will get legal sports betting, in some form, at some point early next year.

Can't get to a physical betting provider? Check out this list of the top online sportsbooks so you can place wagers from almost anywhere:

    View All Sports Betting Sites