by John Stegman
Ohio’s professional sports teams want a piece of sports gambling in the state when and if it ever comes.
Testifying this week before The Ohio Senate Select Committee on Gaming, Cincinnati Reds Chief Financial Officer Doug Healy told lawmakers professional sports organizations recognize the potential benefits of sports gaming.
“It is imperative that Ohio’s sports betting market include access to both mobile and retail sportsbooks for Ohio’s professional teams so that, as the content creators, we share in both the risks and the benefits, just like the casinos,” said Healy, who also said he was speaking on behalf of the Cleveland Indians.
Healy noted legislation introduced in last year’s legislative session would have continued allowing casinos in Ohio to have a monopoly on sports betting.
While Healy asked for sports franchises to have access to a sportsbook license, he made a clear distinction the clubs would not be running the sportsbooks. Instead, teams would partner with an established operator. These mobile and retail sportsbook locations would be located at or near team stadiums or facilities.
A statement from the Reds on Thursday, speaking for Ohio’s eight major professional sports teams and the PGA Memorial Tournament, echoed the support for legal gaming.
“As an industry that drives billions of dollars in economic impact and employs thousands of Ohioans, the professional teams are firmly aligned in supporting legislation that enables the franchises to partner with a regulated sports betting operator for market access into the state,” the statement read. “As the legislative process continues, Ohio’s professional teams are ready and willing to work with lawmakers and support legislation that ensures integrity, drives the greatest local and state economic impact and empowers the ability of teams to partner with sports betting operators for market access.”
In his testimony Healy also advocated for sportsbooks to use official league data for real-time wagering.
The committee also heard from representatives from DraftKings, FC Cincinnati, JACK Entertainment, Poelking Lanes Bowling Center and the Bowling Centers Association of Ohio.
The committee will meet again March 17 to continue discussing sports gaming and e-bingo in Ohio.
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