The General Assembly is finally sending a sports gambling legalization bill to the governor.
After months of negotiations and numerous delays, the House Bill 29 (Wiggam-A. Miller) Conference Committee met Wednesday afternoon and unanimously approved a report on the bill after accepting an omnibus amendment that House Majority Floor Leader Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati) said included language from around 50 separate amendments.
Shortly afterward, the Senate voted 31-1 to approve the report, while the House voted 72-12 to approve it. Gov. Mike DeWine has indicated that he will sign the bill.
The Ohio Casino Control Commission (OCCC) is required to designate a universal start date no later than Jan. 1, 2023.
After the conference committee meeting, Seitz told reporters that the final bill maintains a “very similar structure” as the prior version, but it lowers licensing fees, directs a half-percent of licensing fees to veterans services, directs the Ohio Department of Administrative Services (DAS) to conduct an equity study and removes official league data requirements in lieu of authority for the OCCC to adopt rules to ensure data integrity, among other changes. Seitz did note that the tax rate did not change.
On the House floor, Seitz said the state will initially allow 25 “Type A” sports gaming proprietor licenses for mobile betting.
“There will be a preference for our professional sports teams and leagues. There will be a preference for our existing casinos and racinos. All of those previously named entities will be eligible to apply for two contracts with sportsbooks, popularly known as ‘skins,’ that will facilitate geofenced telephonic betting, where you load money on to your iPhone,” Seitz said. “In addition to those 21 of the 25 Type A licenses, there are four Type A licenses left over, and each of those are eligible to get one contract with a sportsbook, or one skin.”
Seitz said the state will allow up to 42 “Type B” licenses, which are brick-and-mortar sportsbooks.
He said the OCCC will be allowed to issue a “Type C” license to any bar, restaurant or bowling alley with a permit for on-premises liquor consumption. Seitz said the fees for these simplified sports betting kiosks were reduced from $6,000 to $1,000, making them more affordable for small businesses. Additionally, those businesses can convert their existing Ohio Lottery or Keno machines to a sports betting machine if their vendor is the same as the vendor chosen by the OCCC to run sports betting machines.
Type A license holders will have to pay $3 million for the first five years for their first skin, and $10 million over the first five years for a second skin. After the first five years, the fee for each is $3 million for a five-year license.
Seitz said tax revenue raised by sports betting will go to veterans services, education, extracurricular activities for indigent children and problem gambling.
Hannah News Service contributed to this report.