Ohio lawmakers don’t expect they’ll grow rich off the revenue from legalized sports betting, but the amount it does make will be used for honorable purposes. If Lt. Governor Jon Husted gets his way, the revenue will go toward eliminating fees for high school activities like sports and arts. For a state that raked in almost $2 billion in gambling revenue last year, sports betting might be more successful than they think.
Lt. Governor Jon Husted has long been an advocate for eliminating or reducing fees students pay for art, band, sports, and other high school activities. He’s using this to pitch his desire for a sports betting bill. A reported 46 percent of Ohio secondary schools charge students pay-to-participate fees, which can impact participation since some can cost several hundred dollars.
In an interview with The Enquirer, Husted commented on the importance of extracurricular activities:
“It’s through extracurricular activities that students develop teamwork and discipline and sort of the grit skills that are most commonly attributed to success in life.”
Husted says that Ohio’s governor, Mike DeWine, has a goal of improving the childhoods of Ohio’s residents, and one way to do that is to invest in the state’s youth.
A bipartisan bill, Senate Bill 111, was introduced last week, which would allow both racinos and casinos the option to accept bets on pro and college sporting events. In total, sports gambling would be allowed at four locations: Miami Valley Gaming racing in Lebanon, Jack Casino in Cincinnati, Hollywood Gaming racing in Dayton, and Belterra Park racing in Anderson Township.
Additionally, the bill would make it legal to place bets online and using apps on mobile devices of people physically present within the state. This may also open up the possibility of agreements with other states to allow for interstate betting.
The fact that the bill would authorize online and mobile betting is good news for Ohio’s sportsbook operators. In New Jersey, over their first nine months of legal sports betting, mobile and online bets made up for four times the amount of bets placed in person.
The bill’s sponsor, Senator John Eklund (R-Munson Township), said he’s heard several proposals for the sports betting revenue stream and he’s willing to hear suggestions to improve upon the bill. The bill’s co-sponsor is Senator Sean O’Brien (D-Bazetta).
Operators would be required to pay 6.25 percent tax on their net profits after deductions and winnings, making this the lowest tax rate for sports betting operators among the seven states that have legalized the activity since May 2018. The bill, however, says nothing about how the revenue would be used.
The application fee for sportsbook operators would cost $100,000 and renewal fees of $100,000 would be due every five years thereafter.
Another question would be about which entity would regulate sports betting within the state: through the Ohio Casino Control Commission, which oversees the four casinos in Ohio, or the Ohio Lottery Commission, which oversees the gambling machines at racinos. Eklund says he believes the Casino Control Commission is best-suited to take over:
“They have the expertise to maneuver the nuances of making sure everything’s on the up and up and they have the investigatory and law enforcement experience and authority to make sure it remains on the up and up.”
Since the Supreme Court’s decision in May 2018 to overturn the 1992 PASPA, which left it open to individual states to legalize sports betting, seven states have opened sportsbooks. Of those, West Virginia and Pennsylvania, are closest to Ohio. Kentucky is also considering a sports gambling bill this year but might run out of time before finalizing any legislation this session.
With such a successful gambling industry in the state, sports betting is the next logical step. Ohio would be best served if they can get this legalized and rolled out before the 2019 NFL season. Otherwise, Ohio residents will head out of state to place sports wagers or continue with online betting sites.
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