by J.D. Davidson
Gov. Mike DeWine officially made sports betting legal in Ohio with his signature, but it will likely be more than a year before the first legal bet can be placed in the Buckeye State.
DeWine signed House Bill 29 into law late Wednesday, creating online, retail and kiosk legal sports gaming throughout the state, but officials believe it could be January 2023 before legal betting begins.
That’s one of the longest spans between legalization and launch among the other 32 states and Washington, D.C. that have moved into legal sports betting in some form or another, according to Matt Schoch, who oversees PlayOhio.com for the PlayUSA.com Network, a website that provides news, analysis and research on regulated gaming markets in Ohio and across the United States.
“It’s a long time, but the process is complicated, and the Ohio Casino Control Commission says that it wants to take its time to structure regulations effectively and fairly,” Schoch said. “Even if the timing isn’t perfect, it is a better approach than rushing to launch and making mistakes that will affect the market for years to come.”
Despite the delay, PlayUSA believes Ohio will be one of the largest sports gaming markets in the country. It estimates the state could eventually produce as much as $900 million in revenue, $12 billion in wagers and $90 million in state taxes annually in as quickly as three years.
“Ohio is a large state that has embraced an open model, which will make it immensely attractive to both national and local operators,” said Eric Ramsey, analyst for PlayUSA.com. “The common element among the largest markets in the U.S. is that they all foster competition among many operators. Those markets are far more appealing to bettors, which in turn makes the industry a more reliable revenue producer for the state.”
The law creates three types of gaming licenses that last for five years and goes into effect Jan. 1, 2023. The Ohio Casino Control Commission will oversee the program, and the Ohio Lottery Commission also will play a role.
The licenses include those for mobile apps, brick-and-mortar stores and kiosks at certain lottery retail agents, which includes businesses that hold a specific liquor permit.
The state plans to issue at least 25 mobile betting licenses and 40 brick-and-mortar licenses for places such as casinos and pro sports venues. An unlimited number of licenses for kiosks at places such as bars, restaurants and other places with liquor sales will be available.
The state also plans a 10% tax.
The law creates a nine-member Select Committee on Sports Gaming and Problem Gambling to investigate problem gambling and problem gambling funding. The bill also creates the Joint Committee on Sport Gaming to monitor the implementation of sports gaming.
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An Ohio native, J.D. Davidson is a veteran journalist with more than 30 years of experience in newspapers in Ohio, Georgia, Alabama and Texas. He has served as a reporter, editor, managing editor and publisher. Davidson is a regional editor for The Center Square.