Ohio House Bill Calls for State Lottery to Run Sports Betting at Casinos, Racinos

Posted on: April 12, 2019, 05:58h. 

Last updated on: April 12, 2019, 05:58h.

Two Ohio lawmakers have introduced a bill that would legalize sports betting and allow the state’s lottery to manage it.

Ohio state Rep. Dave Greenspan filed a bill this week in the General Assembly that would allow the state’s lottery to offer sports betting at the 11 casinos and racinos. A bill in the state Senate filed last month would give the state’s Casino Control Commission oversight over sports betting. (Image: Cleveland.com)

On Tuesday, state Reps. Dave Greenspan (R-Westlake) and Brigid Kelly (D-Cincinnati) unveiled their proposal that calls for the creation of a Sports Gaming Advisory Board. The lawmakers hope to generate additional funding for public education in the state.

Their bill proposes to let the state’s four casinos and seven racinos to offer sports betting. Fraternal and veteran organizations can also offer to take bets. License fees for most casinos and racinos would be $100,000 annually, while social organizations would pay $1,000.

The state would get 10 percent after expenses. Two percent of the state’s revenue then would go to help with gambling addiction.

The bill allows for betting on professional and college sports or athletic events. It states that the Ohio Lottery Commission may share data with the major professional leagues and the National Collegiate Athletics Association. However, it does provide those organizations with an integrity fee.

Over the past eight months, I have met with nearly 100 interested parties and held numerous informational meetings,” Greenspan said in a summary of the legislation. “After considering their concerns, comments, and input I have prepared a bill for further consideration.”

Constitutional Question

According to a memo by Cody Weisbrodt, an attorney with the Ohio Legislative Service Commission, nothing in the state’s Constitution prohibits the lottery commission from establishing a sports betting lottery.

Greenspan requested the commission examine the issue.

“The Constitution generally is understood to prohibit gambling, but state-conducted lotteries are permitted so long as the entire net proceeds are deposited into a fund to benefit public education in Ohio,” he wrote last month.

The Lottery currently gets the proceeds generated from the seven racinos, which feature only slot machines and other video lottery terminals at the tracks. In the 2018 fiscal year, nearly gamblers bet $10.8 billion, with the operators taking $987.3 million. The lottery received $330.4 million of the racinos’ revenue.

The Ohio Casino Control Commission regulates the state’s four casinos. The adjusted gross revenue for the four venues was $837.5 million in the 2018 calendar year, according to the commission. The state collected $275.4 million last year, according to the state Department of Taxation. County governments then received 51 percent of that funding.

Two of Ohio’s neighboring states – West Virginia and Pennsylvania – currently offer sports betting. A measure to legalize it in Kentucky did not get a vote in this year’s General Assembly session. Michigan and Indiana lawmakers are considering legalization.

The House bill also includes language regarding the use of mobile and online devices for sports betting, pending the resolution of a federal court case in New Hampshire.

Separate Bill in Senate

Last month, two state senators filed a sports betting bill giving the Casino Control Commission oversight of sports betting.

State Sen. John Eklund, the senate bill’s sponsor, told the Columbus Dispatch earlier this week that he questioned how the state lottery could handle sports betting.

“I think there is a palpable difference between the games that the Lottery Commission is responsible for now and something like sports gaming,” he said. “I think sports gaming is on a significantly more sophisticated level.”

Eklund’s bill, like the House proposal, has not yet been assigned to a committee.