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US – Ohio bill would see sports betting at four venues and online

By - 18 March 2019

A bill currently before the Ohio General Assembly is looking to legalise sports betting in casinos, racinos and other venues with video lottery terminals.

Sports betting would be allowed at four Southwest Ohio locations; Jack Casino in Cincinnati, Belterra Park racino in Anderson Township, Hollywood Gaming racino in Dayton and Miami Valley Gaming racino in Lebanon. Senate Bill 111, sponsored by Senators. John Eklund, a Geauga County Republican, and Sean O’Brien, a Bazetta Democrat, would also allow sports betting operators to offer online betting via mobile apps, along with their online website, for their sports pool.

Mr. Eklund said: ““It doesn’t matter if you’re first or last. The object is to be the best. By getting it right, people will find it entertaining and useful and it will be safe for everybody involved.”

The server hosting the website would have to be within a legal gaming facility or another secure facility in the US that is owned or operated by the sports betting operator or its management services provider, a company it contracts with to run the online pool. Each operator appears to be limited to just one online betting platform.

The bill stated: “A licensed management services provider may operate an online sports pool on behalf of the sports wagering operator with which it has a contract and shall be subject to all applicable provisions of this chapter to the same extent as the sports wagering operator. A sports wagering operator may use the same brand as its legal gaming facility to provide an online sports pool website. Each web site may have an accompanying mobile application bearing the same brand as the web site.”

Online players would have to establish accounts under their actual names and not through a beneficiary. Bets could be accepted through the player’s account with the new sector being governed by the Ohio Casino Control Commission would regulate the games of chance. Casino operators and racinos or video lottery terminal sales agents would apply to the commission for certificates to conduct sports wagering.

The application to become a sports betting operator would cost a fee of $10,000. Licences would last for few years and would cost $100,000 and $100,000 every subsequent five years. Tax would be set at 6.25 per cent of what was termed the house’s ‘net take,’ which translates to gross income minus some expenses that the law would allow.

Ohio Senate President Larry Obhof thinks the decision to allow sports betting or not should be made by the voters in a constitutional amendment.

Republican Governor Mike DeWine said: “It’s coming to Ohio whether people want it or not. We need to be there to do it right, the right way.”

Analysts at Oxford Economics pitch the Ohio sports betting market as being around$9bn mark, capable of generating more than $600m in tax.

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