Ohio's sports betting bill, HB 29, could receive a vote in a special sports betting conference committee next week, according to State Sen. Kirk Schuring, one of the principal lawmakers behind the push to legalize sports wagering in the state.
During an interview on 1480 WHBC last Monday, Schuring said that while the much-awaited bill is still in committee, a meeting between Ohio Senate President Matt Huffman and House Speaker Robert R. Cupp to iron out details on the bill could move it to conference committee as early as next week.
“President Huffman is working on scheduling a meeting this week with House Speaker Cupp to see what the house is recommending,” Schuring said. “This is very similar to the process when we’re in the final stage of our budget: the ultimate decisions have to be made by the Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate, and then the conference committee will convene and hopefully we’ll issue a conference report.”
The members of the conference committee would discuss HB 29, which the Senate initially passed earlier this year. However, members of the House refused to concur on certain amendments to the bill on June 28, and thus discussion was tabled until the fall, meaning the conference committee is now needed
The special sports betting conference committee consists of six elected leaders, three from the House and three from the State Senate. Should the committee push the bill to a floor vote, it would then have to receive approval from both the House and Senate before Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine can sign it into law.
Were this to happen, Ohioans should count on DeWine signing it. A long proponent of sports betting, the Governor has gone on record confirming that he would pass a sports wagering bill into law.
Following approval from both bodies and a DeWine signature, the bill would have to wait 90 days before going into effect. That means sports wagering in the state would be slated for next year: according to Schuring, the Senate will suggest the application start date for sports betting licenses by Feb. 15, with applications approved no later than April 30, 2022.
Even if the bill was passed as early as November, it wouldn’t be in effect in the state until after the Super Bowl is played on February 13. Moreover, it would be well after the college football season has concluded.
However, optimism seems to be building around the opportunity of sports wagering arriving in the state. “We’re reaching a point of critical mass where we can finally get this done,” added Schuring in the interview. “We’re getting there.”
The bill in the Senate’s version of HB 29 allows for up to 40 retail sportsbooks across the state, plus up to 25 mobile sports betting licenses. Certain liquor permit holders are also given the ability to have sports betting kiosks in their properties.
Retail sportsbooks can only be located in counties with a minimum population of 100,000, while those with more than 400,000 people can have up to three brick-and-mortar venues. In the case of those with at least 800,000 people -Cuyahoga, Franklin and Hamilton-, they can have up to five.
On top of casinos, major professional sports teams can also launch retail and online sportsbooks operations by partnering up with a sports betting operator.