Ohio Passes Sports Betting Legislation

The Ohio State Buckeyes mascot. Rob Carr/Getty Images/AFP

Online and retail sports betting licenses in Ohio will be issued as early as April 1st, 2022 for a full rollout due in January of 2023. Ohio has been slow to embrace sports betting but it appears the wait is finally over for Buckeye State residents. 

Hoosier Envy 

If imitation is the highest form of flattery, then Indiana should be considered flattered after its neighbor, Ohio, began considering the tax revenue generated from sports betting and decided that the financial windfall outweighed any moral trepidation.  

After all, the social stigma associated with sports betting has been a distant memory for a good, long time even before the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA) was overturned in 2018.  

But now, with the advent of legal sportsbooks throughout the United States, it is being hailed as an economic boon to state and local governments. It is also a welcome opportunity for sports bettors to leave the nefarious world of offshore bookmakers where many, although not all, are renowned for taking money but not releasing it.  

And so it was with Ohio that had five different sports betting bills die in 2020 all due to what can only be described as indifference with many of the legislators. But nothing grabs the attention of lawmakers more than the almighty dollar and while Ohio was sitting on its hands, Indiana was making money hand over fist. Eventually, Ohio legislators got wise and passed the sports betting bill by a staggering 31-1 in the Senate and 77-12 in the House.  

Governor Mike DeWine signed the state’s sports betting bill on December 22nd, 2021 and finally, Ohio will be able to enjoy the fruits of one of the most dynamic industries in the nation. Sports betting has finally arrived in the Buckeye State and had it not been for its massive success next door then it would likely still be struggling to get passed.  

Indiana’s total handle in 2021 was $3 billion, with 86% of that money generated by online sportsbooks. But Ohio should be able to dwarf that number according to John Atkinson, development director for 888 Holdings, a UK-based online gambling firm. 

“I would expect Ohio to probably be double the size of Indiana. But that won’t be right off the bat. That might take two or three years to develop,” said Atkinson.  

Kentucky Could Be Newest Entry 

The Bluegrass State will be left out in the cold once Ohio begins issuing sports betting licenses but that might be the key to bringing bookmaking to Kentucky. In what has become a case of “keeping up with the Joneses” watching its citizens flee to neighboring states to spend money and contribute to the tax coffers of another is often too much to bear.  

Even the legislators who don’t know a parlay from a parachute will eventually learn that ignorance can be expensive and getting educated is always helpful especially when those who voted them in count on them to be informed on such matters.  

But nothing catches the eye like envy and once Ohio rolls out its sports betting platforms then Kentucky will likely follow suit if Representative Adam Koenig of Erlanger has his way. Erlanger has filed a bill that cleared a House committee earlier this month.  

A three-year-old study found that Kentucky could generate over $2 billion in sports bets which would mean approximately $22 million to the state in tax revenue. “All I know is, it’s more than we’re getting now,” Koenig said. “The bookies and the offshore accounts will keep taking your money either way. So, let’s do it the right way. Let’s provide a safe, legal method and we’ll generate money for the state’s pension system.”