Ohio Moves Closer to the Legalization of Sports Betting

Legislation surrounding sports betting in the state of Ohio has moved closer to becoming legal even though the pandemic has made this slow process even harder. The Ohio Senate General Government and Agency Review Committee has recently heard about updates to the bill with the hope that there will be further legalization of the entire sports betting industry in the near future.

At this moment, legislators have been discussing compromises that need to be made to the bill after the initial attempt was refuted due to several concerns. The latest step is actually the third hearing of what is referred to as SB 111, with this hearing being supported by both written and in-person statements from companies who will be actively involved in the sports betting industry.

But as of right now, things are on hold. The bill is going to require another hearing by the committee and no date has been set. This is something that is controlled by the chair of the committee, so while things do look quite favorable, there is a sense of being in limbo at this point.

Delays Caused By the Pandemic

However, there is a fear that Covid-19 is having a negative impact on the speed at which legislation can be passed. Six major players in the sports betting industry were forced to deliver written statements rather than being heard in person due to various restrictions. This alone is viewed as a delay due to the inability to directly discuss aspects of the bill with those who will be involved in the supply of the betting platforms.

Even with this delay, there is clear excitement surrounding the introduction of in-person sports betting being introduced across Ohio. According to the Vice-President of Jack Entertainment, they are ready and willing to invest a huge sum of money across the state in order to provide their clientele with the opportunity to go ahead and place their bets. They have already surveyed people with the clear outcome being one of excitement where they can ‘wager legally’ on their favorite sports rather than looking at ways to circumvent the law.

On a Hold, But is There Hope?

While any hold or delay may be worrying for some, it is anticipated that the committee will look to states surrounding Ohio for some inspiration. If they do indeed take this approach, then they will see that sports betting has been a resounding success. Both Indiana and Pennsylvania reported record income from sports betting in October, while West Virginia also has a strong record in this area. Add in the fact that Michigan is about to make everything legal, then it makes Ohio appear to be all out on its own.

The only fear held by some is that several members who were in support of the bill lost their places in the recent election. There is a worry that it may be decided to delay further movement on the bill until the changeover occurs in January. Some sports betting companies are fearful that those individuals replacing supportive committee members may have alternative ideas as to what should be included, and that could make matters worse.

Ohio is Ready for Change

There’s no doubt that the people of Ohio are ready for sports betting to be made available across the state. Unfortunately, it has taken two years to get this far as it was 2018 when the Supreme Court overturned the full ban on sports betting. While other states have worked at a more reasonable pace, Ohio has struggled to get things moving. Why this has been the case is unknown, but it does feel as if there has been some kind of breakthrough.

Unfortunately, it is all now in the hands of the chair of the committee as to what happens next, but you wouldn’t want to place a bet on it.


Our in-house expert for all things regulation, Jackson covers all major recent developments across US states relating to gambling laws & legislation.