‘We’re Getting There’: Ohio Sports Betting Bill Could Soon Start Making Progress Again

Ohio Senator Kirk Schuring says an agreement has been reached that could get sports-betting legislation moving again in the Buckeye State.

Last Updated: Dec 6, 2021 3:36 PM ET Read Time: 2 min
TreVeyon Henderson Ohio State College Football
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A bill that would authorize sports betting in the Buckeye State might soon be freed from legislative gridlock, providing hope for Ohio bettors looking to legally get a wager down.

House Bill 29 was initially legislation having to do with identification cards for veterans, but it was amended in June by the state's Senate to include sports betting-related provisions. The House of Representatives, however, refused to concur on those amendments and lawmakers headed off for their summer vacations and constituency duties with the situation at an impasse. 

A conference committee designed to iron out differences around H.B. 29 was then formed in the fall. The bill has been before the committee ever since, with no further progress — until now, it appears. 

Committee member Kirk Schuring, an Ohio state senator, said Monday that an agreement had been reached and that he expects the committee to meet this week and approve a report on the bill. The report would then be sent to the House and Senate for further approval, said Schuring, a Republican from Canton and a co-sponsor of H.B. 29.  

Lawmakers are now working with the Legislative Service Commission to ensure the concepts hammered out by the politicians are in solid legal form, Schuring said. Reconciling those two things is sometimes not as easy as it might sound, he added. 

“All throughout this weekend, I’ve been working with the Senate staff, House staff, and the Legislative Service Commission on making sure that the concepts and the legal form are one and the same,” Schuring said during an appearance on a Canton-area radio show. “But we’re getting there. Good work was done this weekend.”

Type A legislation

After being amended by the Senate, H.B. 29 would legalize both retail and online sports betting in Ohio and put it under the oversight of the state's Casino Control Commission. Bettors would have to be at least 21 years old and physically present in the state for wagering, which probably wouldn’t begin under the bill's provisions until the spring of 2022 at the earliest. 

If the bill is passed into law, legal sports betting could be available in the state over the internet, at physical sportsbooks (with the number of those books in any county tied to population), and at self-serve kiosks in certain bars and restaurants. 

Although rejected by the House, the amended H.B. 29 proposed three main types of sports betting licenses: a Type A permit, for online wagering; Type B, for brick-and-mortar sportsbooks; and Type C, which is for self-serve kiosks. There would be as many as 25 Type A licenses, 40 Type B licenses, and 20 Type C licenses.

Preference would be given to professional sports organizations and casino operators for Type A and B licenses. Those licensees could partner with sportsbook operators to take bets on their behalf as well. 

That is, of course, if those are the conference committee’s recommendations, and if those recommendations are accepted by other lawmakers.

Schuring didn't divulge any details about the agreement that was reached and noted, “this thing has been difficult,” as the parties interested in the legislation are very competitive. He likened the process to trying to negotiate a deal with the Ohio State Buckeyes, Michigan Wolverines, New York Yankees, and Boston Red Sox. 

“They're just naturally competitive with each other, and they want a piece of this new market,” the senator said. “So, you know, well-intended, don't have any ill feelings towards any of them, but that's what really has been holding everything up.”

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