Podcast: What’s next for legalizing sports gambling in Ohio

Written on May 09, 2019

By Jessica Salerno, OSCPA senior content manager

Whether you take part in gambling or not, Ohio’s recent proposed legislation to legalize sports betting means it could soon be part of the financial landscape.

John_Eklund“Sports wagering is obviously a popular pastime among some people around the world and here in Ohio,” said State Sen. John Eklund, R-Munson Township. “But in Ohio, it’s an activity that when people do engage in, they’re generally doing it illegally. So, I think it’s important to bring this out of the shadows and put a dent in illegal activity that’s going on.”

In May of 2018, the Supreme Court struck down a federal ban on sports wagering. In March of this year, Eklund and State Sen. Sean O'Brien, D-Trumbull County, introduced Senate Bill 111, which would legalize sports betting in Ohio's 11 casinos and racinos and include online and mobile options, along with a tax rate of 6.25%. Eklund joined us on the most recent episode of The State of Business podcast to discuss SB 111 and the impact it would have on Ohio.

Seven other states, including West Virginia and Pennsylvania have legal, regulated sports betting industries. But Eklund said he isn’t in a race to compete with other states on this issue.

“What the surrounding states are doing can be instructive and can help guide our process, but it doesn’t matter to me that Ohio will not be first,” he said. “I’d rather focus on making sure that if we’re going to do this, Ohio does it best.”

SB 111 isn’t the only legislation in Ohio looking to legalize sports gambling. Rep. Dave Greenspan, R-Westlake, and Rep. Brigid Kelly, D- Cincinnati, introduced House legislation in April to establish a Sports Gaming Advisory Board designed to legalize and regulate sports gambling in Ohio. The Sports Gaming Advisory Board would report to The Lottery Commission.

Cassandra Baubie, JD, associate at Hill Barth & King CPAs & Consultants, said should legislation pass, a familiarity with sports betting provisions and how they impact state budgets would be valuable for CPAs.

“It’s not going to be as impactful as those states with legalized marijuana, whether recreational or medicinal,” she said, in terms of the tax revenue sports betting could potentially bring.

Eklund said it’s vital to remember that as legislation is discussed, consumers must be protected.

“We must keep our eye on the consumer protection aspects of this activity and making sure that people who play these games are going to do it with some degree of confidence that everything is on the up and up,” he said. “And minimize, if not eliminate, any prospect something could go wrong that could cost people money other than from losing a bet. And we’ll make every effort to make sure that we do that.”

Listen to the entire episode to hear more from Sen. Eklund and Baubie here.

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