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Ohio Senate passes bill to legalize sports gambling; bill moves to House for further consideration

The Ohio Senate passed Senate Bill 176, which will legalize sports gambling.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Editor's note: the video in the player above is from a previous story.

More than years after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a national ban, sports gambling is one step closer to becoming legal in Ohio.

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On Wednesday, the Ohio Senate passed Senate Bill 176, which would legalize sports betting in Ohio. After passing with two dissenting votes, the bill will now move to the Ohio House of Representatives for further consideration.

While Ohio has previously introduced legislation to legalize sports gambling since the national ban was struck down in 2018, Senate Bill 176 marks the Buckeye State's best chance to join bordering states Michigan, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Indiana in offering sports betting. Earlier this year, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine said that it was not a matter of if, but rather when the state would legalize sports gaming.

"Sports gaming's already in Ohio. Ohio's just not regulating it," DeWine said, referring to those taking part in the practice illegally. "This is something that I think is inevitable. It's coming to Ohio."

"The members of the general assembly are working that process. I will have the opportunity to see what they came up with. I will have the opportunity to weigh in at the appropriate time. But sports gaming is certainly coming to Ohio."

Under the revised version of Senate Bill 176, casinos, racinos and other businesses could apply for one of up to 58 sports gaming licenses at a $1 million cost, with 33 reserved for brick-and-mortar stores and 25 for online and mobile betting. Additionally, an unlimited number of establishments with liquor licenses can apply for a $6,000 "Type C" sports gaming license.

The Ohio Casino Control Commission will oversee the process, with professional sports teams in the state, as well as the Memorial Tournament and NASCAR given preference for licenses. Under the current proposal, two betting kiosks will be permitted per licensed location.

If passed and signed into law, Ohioans are expected to be able to place bets in early-2022.

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