Ohio Sports Betting Considers Regulators
Two sports betting bills are being considered by the Ohio legislature. House Bill 194 would put the Ohio Lottery Commission in charge, with the Ohio Casino Commission conducting investigations. Senate Bill 111 names the Ohio Casino Commission as chief regulator. College and university officials asked that collegiate athletics be removed from wagering.
In Ohio, competing sports betting bills offer different state agencies as possible regulators. House Bill 194 would make the Ohio Lottery Commission the primary regulator with the Ohio Casino Commission in charge of investigations. The bill also would tax sports betting revenue at 10 percent and direct funds to education and gambling addiction programs. Senate Bill 111 would give sports betting oversight to the Ohio Casino Commission.
State Rep. Niraj Antani said, “Obviously, the debate is really becoming who regulates it and how. I think there’s a compelling argument that perhaps the lottery is the constitutional way to do it. I am for a free market so if we are going to do it then it should not just be at casinos.”
State Rep. Phil Plummer supports legalizing sports wagers but still is considering “the best route” to allow and regulate it in Ohio. He said a “slow roll-out” would make sure state officials and regulators “get this right,” Plummer said. He added, with neighboring Indiana launching sportsbooks in September and online wagering in October, “We’re definitely missing out. It’s lost revenue to other states where people are gambling on sports. Unfortunately, it’s already going on in the black market. We might as well control it.”
In a legislative hearing for House Bill 194–which would authorize sports wagering at casinos, racinos and veterans and fraternal organizations, and allow online and mobile betting through the Ohio Lottery Commission–officials from Major League Baseball, the National Football League and the Professional Golf Association asked that it be changed to include a mandate requiring the use of official league data during games. They said this would protect fans who make bets during games from being cheated by false or pirated data.
Melissa Wideman, Cincinnati Reds vice president of community relations, said, “Legalized sports betting in Ohio must be done correctly, or we risk the integrity of our game and the good will of our fans. Therefore, without inclusion of a requirement that Ohio sportsbooks use official league data for in-play betting we must oppose HB 194.”
In addition, each of Ohio’s public universities, at least 51 private colleges and related organizations, announced opposition to legalized betting on college athletics. Also at a legislative hearing, Inter-University Council President Bruce E. Johnson said, “It would not take a great leap of logic to conclude the risk of student athletes soliciting and accepting payments in order influence the outcome of games may increase.”
University of Dayton Athletic Director Neil Sullivan added, “At the end of the day we’re dealing with young people. Exposing them to the things that can come from sports gambling gives us great concern.”
Governor Mike DeWine has expressed support for legalizing sports betting.