Ohio Sports Betting in Doubt for 2018 as Senator Questions Constitutional Validity

Posted on: August 22, 2018, 07:30h. 

Last updated on: August 22, 2018, 06:20h.

It’s looking like a long shot that lawmakers in Ohio will legalize sports betting before the end of the year as the debate heats up on the legalities of the concept itself.

Ohio sports betting
Larry Obhof is pessimistic that a vote on legal sports betting in Ohio will be held in 2018. (Source: Richland Source)

With the NFL season just around the corner, that’s bad news for Browns fans hoping they’d be able to place a legal wager on the local team this season.

Ohio Senate President Larry Obhof is throwing cold water on the notion of getting sports betting regulations in place by the end of 2018. Obhof says that legislators won’t even look at a bill which would legalize sports betting in the Buckeye State until after the November elections.

There is still plenty work that needs to be done before legal wagering becomes a reality. Bill 316 is currently void of any specifics which would shape the sports betting landscape in the state. The bill first needs to be investigated by a committee, and that won’t happen until well into November.

Obhof indicated that a vote in the legislature ahead of 2019 is highly unlikely.

In fact, the Republican Senator took things a step further when he admitted having doubts about whether or not legislators even have the authority to green light sports betting at all.

Constitutional Changes

According to Obhof, gambling is banned under Ohio’s Constitution, meaning an amendment would be necessary before Bill 316 could be passed.

“I think there is a pretty serious legal question of – irrespective of the federal court decision this year – whether or not we could even have sports gaming here, if that’s something the legislature could even authorize, even if they wanted to,” Obhof told Cleveland.com.

The accuracy of that his stance is unclear, and those legalities will need to be addressed by the committee later this fall.

In May, the Supreme Court opened the door for states to create their own regulations around legal sports betting when it struck down PASPA. States such as New Jersey and Delaware are already up and running without having made any changes to their state constitution. Meanwhile, New York State has shelved the sports betting question until 2019.

If and when it comes time to vote in Ohio, Obhof has made it clear where he stands on the issue.

Questionable Finances 

According to some reports, legalized sports betting in Ohio could generate as much as $1 billion in revenue during the first 12 months alone.

But Obhof isn’t buying it, and he admits he’d likely vote against a bill to legalize sports betting. He claims such figures are pie in the sky numbers cooked up by those who would see legal wagering in Ohio.

“First, I think that some of the numbers that some of the proponents are talking about are probably exaggerated,” he said to Cleveland.com. “Whether it is a revenue generator or not, I think is a second question before you decide whether it’s legal or not, if it’s constitutional or not.”