Will lawmakers be able to honor the promise they made in September?
There is nothing new with OKBET sports betting, unless you include yet another pledge to make it a priority, but Ohio lawmakers on Tuesday kept it in the news.
The Cincinnati Enquirer reported that Sen. Kirk Schuring and House Speaker Bob Cupp are hoping to work out the specifics of OKBET sports betting bill and get it passed when the state legislature returns from its summer break in September, one day before the self-imposed June 30 deadline to legalize sports betting made by Schuring earlier this year. A sports betting law was approved by the Senate on June 16, but Cupp placed it on hold nine days later, and the House never took it up.
He also pledged to continue talking about it on Tuesday.
Cupp told the Enquirer, “We’re going to work on it throughout the summer to try to finalize it so when we come back in September, that’s one of the first things we do. “That is both our hope and our goal.”
Broken promises and buckeyes
When it comes to the legalization of OKBET sports betting, Ohioans have been treated to a seemingly never-ending stream of broken promises that date back to 2018. In July 2018, Ohio legislators introduced a measure that stated simply, “It is the desire of the General Assembly to design and adopt legislation allowing OKBET sports wagering.”
Three years later, some lawmakers still support inclusivity and the state’s 65 operator licenses, while others want professional sports teams and want casinos banned.
The one thing that has been made crystal clear in Ohio over the past three years is the lack of a comprehensive plan for what legal sports betting will entail. Schuring’s Joint Select Committee on Gaming really submitted SB 176 after spending months hearing from stakeholders. It was quickly revised, but the House ultimately rejected it. The Senate then made the decision to add the debate over sports betting to a bill that the House had already rejected regarding veteran identity. Both legislation underwent several revisions that rendered them unrecognizable and ultimately unpassable.
Has anything changed since then?
What’s truly at issue here is how Schuring or Cupp see reaching an understanding.
Schuring told the Enquirer, “I will be working very carefully with important members of the House, key stakeholders, and Senate President Matt Huffman to put everything in line so we can move quickly when we return in September.
Schuring’s committee ought to have produced a bill that would have passed after 14 meetings. After all, it considered the possibilities after hearing from stakeholders and operators from all across the country, and it presented a framework that would have permitted statewide Okbet mobile sports betting, with 40 physical licenses and 20 internet platforms. The licensing and Type A application and licensing fees were set at $1 million, the Casino Control Commission would serve as the regulatory body, and there was an operator-friendly 10% tax rate on OKBET betting partners revenue.
Up to 78 licenses would have been available by the time the Senate was finished fiddling, the number of master licenses that would have been permitted in certain counties would have been capped based on population, and the licensing fee for the largest operators could go as high as $2 million. The 10% tax threshold held.
“Thank you,” says Michigan.
Ohio has moved from being a possible first mover in its region to being the last mover as it pursues its third attempt to legalize sports betting. All but one of Ohio’s five bordering states have allowed sports betting since the first bill was introduced in July 2018, and those four states—Indiana, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia—offer statewide mobile sports betting.
The Buckeye State won’t have live legal sports betting until at least a year from now, even if the legislature manages to resolve the differences and legalize this autumn. Therefore, Ohioans will cross the border to wager on OSU, the Bengals, and the Browns for a third straight football season.
Michigan, the most recent border state to launch digital betting, will be more than pleased to accept the wagers and taxes of its opponent.