Ohio’s Senate Gaming Committee has unanimously approved a bill to allow sports betting in the state, after including an omnibus amendment that would delay the market opening to 1 April but increase the number of licensees.
If passed, the bill – SB 176 – was set to come into force on 1 October, which would kick off the process to allow operators to apply for licences. However, Kirk Schuring, chair of the Senate Select Committee on Gaming, said that a delay would allow all operators to begin on equal footing when the market opens.
“Everybody we’ve talked to says they want an equal start time, so applications for these licences will open up on January 1, 2022”
Licences will then be approved from April 1, 2022.
Two types of license are permitted under the new legislation. Type A licenses allow vendors to offer online sports betting under one brand name each, with a single controlling person not permitted to obtain more than five of these licenses.
Type B licenses allow sports gaming agents to offer sports gaming at one retail facility.
Initially, 20 of each license were set to be issued, but the amendment changes this to 25 Type A licenses and 23 Type B.
Type B licenses will also carry certain restrictions over the maximum amount of licenses available in each city. This will depend on city size.
Ohio professional sports teams are eligible for retail licenses, and under the new amendment, “shall have preference” for approval. This will include not only the state’s NFL, MLB, NBA and NHL teams, but also PGA golf courses and Nascar tracks.
In addition, the Ohio Casino Control Commission will commission a study into problem gambling as part of the amended bill.
“We’re going to give that its just due diligence,” Schuring said.
Further amendments to the bill deal with the provision to allow electronic bingo machines. Last month, the Problem Gambling Network of Ohio warned that these were effectively “underregulated slot machines” and said the bill could see the machines installed in 900 locations statewide.
The new amendment will see both the state Attorney General and the Casino Control Commission look into whether the machines could be considered slot machines, but is also set to increase the number of e-bingo machines allowed per location.
The omnibus amendment was passed unanimously, while the decision to report the bill favourably to the Senate Rules and Reference Committee was also unanimous. If that committee passes the bill, it will go to the Senate floor for a vote.
Yesterday, betting operator WynnBet announced a marketing partnership with Ohio’s Cincinnati Reds Major League Baseball team.