In a big move towards legalizing sports betting for the state of Ohio, the House Committee has gone ahead and voted yes on the passage of House Bill 194.
While this may not seem like a huge move on the surface, the fact is that this process has taken more than a year of hearings in the legislature to get to this point. There have been plenty of battles fought and arguments made on both sides of the issue.
Along with moving the bill forward and legalizing sports betting in the state, the Ohio House Finance Committee also voted in favor of putting the Ohio Lottery Commission in charge of actually tax betting receipts and regulating the system.
As it stands, the Ohio Lottery Commission would tax betting receipts at 10% and then those net proceeds are earmarked for such things as gambling-addiction programs and education programs.
The idea is to take those revenues and invest them back into the state and its residents. This objective was twofold as it helps to keep those lawmakers who oppose sports betting happy and it will help benefit future problem gamblers.
In terms of the next step for House Bill 194, it will be moving to the full House in order to get approval. This bill has been sponsored by a couple of state representatives – Rep. Brigid Kelley a Democrat from Cincinnati and Dave Greenspan, a Republican from Westlake.
The fact that it is a non-partisan bill has helped it to move through a little smoother giving both parties a chance to include their own elements and requests in the bill.
The bill was first heard a year ago in May 2019. As mentioned, it’s been a long journey since that time. Part of the hold-up was the fact there were lots of arguments regarding which state agency would be appointed to regulate the industry.
As long as it gets the approval of the full house, it will then be on its way to the Senate. It should be noted that currently the Senate has its own bill that has a different state agency regulating the industry. The Senate would like to see the Ohio Casino Control Commission take control.
Senate President Larry Obhof, a Medina Republican, made the following comments about the lengthy legal battle:
“I think there’s a strong disagreement between the chambers, and I also think the governor is not in favor of through the lottery commission. But we’re happy to take up whatever they send us and take a look at it.”
Other differences between the House and Senate bills are that the Senate would issue a 6.25% tax levy and the revenue would be placed in the general fund for the state of Ohio. One similarity however is that both bills would allow for mobile betting, which makes Ohio more competitive with what other nearby states are doing.
So, while the House and Senate seem to be on the same page when it comes to legalizing sports betting in Ohio, there are still plenty of details to be worked out that could in fact end up jeopardizing the passage of the bill and delaying it even further.
The hope is that both sides can work together, come to a mutual agreement, and finally get something passed that can then be sent to the Governor of Ohio for official passing. For many proponents, this has been a long battle.
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