Ohio Governor Mike DeWine Backs Sports Betting, Says Gaming Expansion ‘Inevitable’

Posted on: March 2, 2021, 10:29h. 

Last updated on: March 2, 2021, 01:17h.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) says the odds are strong that the state will soon legalize and regulate sports betting.

Ohio sports betting Mike DeWine
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine is seen here in 2019 during his state budget address. The Republican governor believes sports betting will come to the state in the near future. (Image: Associated Press)

The US Supreme Court in May of 2018 ruled that the longstanding ban on sports betting that prohibited gambling activity everywhere but Nevada ran afoul of the Constitution. Since 25 states plus DC have legalized wagering on sports. Ohio, however, a sports-obsessed state, has remained on the sidelines.

The first-term governor says he’s excited to help Ohio become a legal sports betting market.

Sports gaming is already in Ohio. Ohio’s just not regulating it,” DeWine said this week. “This is something that I think is inevitable. It’s coming to Ohio.”

Ohio is surrounded by legal sports betting markets. Neighboring Pennsylvania, Illinois, West Virginia, Indiana, and Michigan all have legalized sports betting operational. Each of those states allows retail and mobile sports betting.

Ohio’s only bordering state that does not have regulated sports gambling in Kentucky.

Massive Market Opportunity

Ohio lawmakers have unsuccessfully tried in the past to authorize sports betting. Last May, a sports betting bill passed the state House but died in the Senate. Politicians in the upper chamber favored their own sports betting legislation, but the session ended in December without action on the gaming topic.

DeWine says lawmakers are back to the drawing board.

“The members of the general assembly are working that process,” DeWine said. “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.”

Research conducted last year by Eilers & Krejcik Gaming found that Ohio’s potential sports betting market are a $600 million annual opportunity.

Ohio lawmakers have floated a low tax rate on sports betting gaming revenue. The 2020 House bill suggested just an eight percent gross gaming revenue sports betting tax. If that rate is reintroduced in a 2021 sports betting bill that is passed and signed by DeWine, it would be one of the country’s lowest sports wagering tariffs.

Sports Betting Specifics Need Work

With more than half a billion dollars in annual revenue potentially at stake, numerous entities are hoping to get a piece of the action.

One rather unique group is the Ohio Grocers Association. Joe Ewig, a lobbyist who represents the association, said last month that sports betting should be handled in a similar form as the state lottery, and therefore be permitted in grocery stores.

We are not here today to advocate for opening a sportsbook in each grocery store, having tables set up through our locations or isles. But we ask you to consider making us a part of the sports gaming system,” Ewig told the Ohio Senate Select Committee on Gaming.

Ewig is advocating for a sports betting product that is part of an expanded lottery offering.