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Ohio Takes Steps Toward Legalized Sports Betting

Leaders in the state of Ohio see just how profitable legalized sports betting has been for other parts of the country. Now, the hope is that America’s favorite new obsession will be available within the state’s borders.

The state legislature introduced two competing bills to get this legalization off the ground. Initially, these two bills were put forth a little more than a year ago when the U.S. Supreme Court made the ruling that individual states could allow sports betting.

House Bill 194 would give control to the Ohio Lottery Commission and investigative responsibilities to the Ohio Casino Commission. This bill would also have a 10-percent tax to sports betting and have the money going to educational and gambling addiction programs.

Senate Bill 111 would give control to the Ohio Casino Commission, but this one hasn’t had a public hearing yet.

Governor Mike DeWine has shown plenty of support for legalizing sports betting, but the discussion of which state agency will govern the industry is still up for debate.

“Obviously, the debate is really becoming who regulates it and how,” said State Rep. Niraj Antani, R-Miamisburg. “I think there’s a compelling argument that perhaps the lottery is the constitutional way to do it. I am for a free market, so if we are to do it, then it should not just be at casinos.”

Members from the Ohio House of Representatives have already heard from colleges and professional sports leaders on the details of the legalization. Rep. Phil Plummer, R-Dayton, said he supports the legalization of sports betting but is still making up his mind about “the best route” for it to be allowed and regulated in the state.

As Plummer mentioned, a “slow roll-out” of getting this process underway is needed to make sure that state leaders and regulators “get this right.”

While sports betting is already legalized in a few states, Ohio needs to make sure it doesn’t miss out on all of this extra tax revenue. Neighboring Indiana just began its operations in September and has customers coming in from The Buckeye State, in addition to others from Illinois and other states.

“We’re definitely missing out. It’s lost revenue to other states where people are gambling on sports,” Plummer said. “Unfortunately, it’s already going on in the black market. We might as well control it.”

Counter Opinion

As the case is with every state, there are plenty of people that are opposed to sports betting. Les Bernal, the group director of Stop Predatory Gambling, told the Ohio finance committee that Ohio residents lose around $3 billion per year to state-sanctioned gaming businesses.

Bernal also said that gambling often leaves people with nothing in return because the “financial exchange is mathematically rigged against you.”

“There is a faulty assumption surrounding commercialized gambling, and it has led to bad outcomes for the American people,” Bernal said. “It’s the false perception that gambling is just like any other business. It’s not.”

In addition, there are numerous other factors that Ohio needs to consider, like mobile betting, with professional leagues and accordance with bets on collegiate games. It is, however, a good sign that everything is starting to be discussed in a serious manner.

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