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US – Ohio to launch 40 betting licences but casinos won’t host retail sports books

By - 7 May 2021

Ohio senators want to launch sports betting in the state with 40 three-year sports betting licenses priced $1m each, potentially up for grabs. Legislators are aiming to pass the bill by the end of June. But as is the case in most other states, casinos won’t be allowed to offer retail sports books.

Of these applicants, 20 A Class licences will go to operators who can ‘bank the bet’ including Ohio’s 11 casinos and racinos. They would be allowed to team up with online and mobile app-based betting services. A further 20 B licenses, called type B, would be offered for in-person sports betting, such as sports bars that offer proposition bets. Bizarrely, a retail sportsbook won’t be permitted at a casino or racino, but either could still apply for a Class B license if the retail sportsbook is opened offsite. Both can also offer sports betting through the Lottery.

Ohio’s professional sports teams will be allowed to apply.

Senator Kirk Schuring said: “This is not about revenue generation. This is about something that is occurring right now in Ohio illegally. We want to put guardrails around it, and we want to make sure it’s being done properly with the right regulatory authority. We believe in the free market so if there is another entity out there right now, notwithstanding those 11 that we’re talking about, who can come up with the money to bank the bet, come to Ohio. We think we’ve got a very good basis to finally get this done. We’re anxious not just to work with the committee but our colleagues in the House and the Governor’s office to get it done before the end of June.”

“The way we’ve drafted this is so everybody has an opportunity based on free-market principles,” Mr. Schuring added. “But we’re not going to hand anybody in the revised code something on a silver platter. They have to compete, they have to show whatever they’re doing is meritorious and then they have to be approved by the regulatory agency.”

House Speaker Bob Cupp added: “The goal of getting sports betting done before we recess for the summer is a high priority.”

The new sports betting sector would be regulated by the Ohio Casino Control Commission, rather than the state lottery, and would be charged taxation of 10 per cent.

“The lottery is a marketing agency, not a regulatory agency,” Mr. Schurring explained. “When it comes to gaming, we have to put it under the auspices of the Ohio Casino Control Commission. Now when it comes to a pool, a lottery pool where there is no risk to the lottery, yes the lottery can have jurisdiction over that. I would never give an odds-making risk to the Ohio Lottery for fear that if they couldn’t bank the bet, the bank of last resort is the people of Ohio.”

Caption: No retail sports book for Hollywood Casino Columbus

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