Ohio appears to be one step closer to legalizing sports betting.
On Wednesday, Ohio H.B. 194 -- which was first introduced last April -- passed through the Ohio House Rules committee and House Finance Committee, setting it up for a vote on the Ohio House floor, scheduled for Thursday. The bill, which aims "to create a Sports Gaming Advisory Board, to legalize and regulate sports gaming in this state, and to levy a tax on businesses that provide sports gaming" is sponsored by Rep. Dave Greenspan, who said he expects it to pass in the House on Thursday.
“We’re moving it now to start negotiations with the Senate over the summer so when we come back early in the fall we’ll be able to get a bill on the governor’s desk by the end of the year,” Greenspan told LegalSportsReport.com.
Getting the sports betting bill onto the House floor for a vote marks the most significant action Ohio has taken toward legalizing sports betting in the state since the national ban was struck down in 2018. While other states, including neighboring Pennsylvania, Michigan and West Virginia have been quicker to act, Ohio has remained stagnant, with the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic delaying action by the state even further.
Even if it does pass in the House on Thursday, some key differences exist between itself and the Senate bill that was introduced by Sen. John Ekuland. Most notably, the House bill calls for the Ohio Lottery Commission to oversee sports betting, while the Senate bill puts the Casino Control Commission in charge.
The negotiations between the two sides, however, can't occur until the House passes its version of the bill, which it appears could happen as soon as Thursday. After that, a timetable for legalizing sports betting in Ohio could become more clear, with the November election looming as a key date.