Senate Bill 176 in Ohio would legalize sports betting, something that casino operators and sports fans want to see happen. However, the bill also allows the state to start offering electronic instant bingo games and casinos are not happy at all about this inclusion. To fight the option, some gaming companies are coming out in opposition with a group called Get Gaming Right Ohio.
No Electronic Bingo Games
Get Gaming Right Ohio is a coalition consisting of gaming operators in the state. The group would like to see lawmakers reject the bill in its current form and advance a sports gaming bill that is responsible, protecting consumers and avoiding the consequences that expansion of underregulated gambling machines can create.
Just hours after SB 176 was approved by the Ohio Senate with an almost unanimous vote, Get Gaming Right Ohio decided to issue a statement. The group says that the electronic bingo machines will take away from the schools in the state.
The spokesperson for the group, Dan Williamson, commented that the group feels the sports betting bill is bad for Ohio. They are urging lawmakers to reject the measure. The group says that the bill will flood the state with underregulated games that do not include consumer protections. This puts residents at risk and takes away the potential for millions in education payments.
The goal of the group is to provide residents with information on the need for regulated, responsible, and limited gaming, as well as sports betting in the state. In the statement, both Penn National Gaming and JACK Entertainment showed their support.
The E-Bingo Element
With the new legislation, the state would allow up to 10 machines to be operated by an individual veteran or fraternal organization. The Get Gaming Right Ohio group says there are over 800 such organizations in the state. This number could potentially see over 8,000 of the electronic bingo machines in operation.
The games would be allowed to operate up to 12 hours a day. The organizations would not be taxed by the state on the revenues they earn from the games. This is a concern for the existing operators as they do not feel the bingo games will be regulated properly and consumer protection will be lacking.
For casinos, their games are overseen by the Ohio Casino Control Commission. Racinos in the state are allowed to offer video lottery terminals and they are controlled by the Ohio Lottery Commission. Neither of these regulators would be in charge of the electronic bingo machines and the coalition says this puts consumers at risk.
It doesn’t appear as though lawmakers are as concerned, and the legislation has been able to move forward pretty quickly. It would be surprising to see any changes at this point, but you never know what could happen.
We will stay tuned to any developments and report on the process as it moves forward. It will be interesting to see if the bill is changed or if the casinos and racinos have to continue their fight in a different manner in order to try and stop the electronic bingo effort.