Ohio on a path to sports gambling legalization
By Bob Garcia
State lawmakers are confident that sports gambling legislation is coming sooner, not later
Sports gambling is already a strong industry in the US, with over 50% of the country’s population living where the activity has been legalized. This is despite the fact that well under half of the country has approved sports gambling measures. That is changing, though, and it is predicted that close to 40 states will have their own markets established within a few years. One of these is Ohio, and several lawmakers believe the Buckeye State could see forward progress sometime in 2021.
One of those lawmakers is Senator John Eklund. He is a member of the Ohio Senate General Government and Agency Review Committee and has just brought the topic of sports gambling up during a recent session. Eklund co-sponsors Senate Bill 111, which would pave the way for an established sports gambling framework in the state.
The bill is also finding support from gaming operators, such as FanDuel, MGM and Penn National Gaming, who have included written testimony with the bill. Jack Entertainment, a local casino operator, is behind the measure, as well, and Jack VP of Sports & Digital Gaming Adam Suliman asserts, “We are excited about the prospect of adding physical sportsbooks and related amenities at our properties here in Ohio. We are preparing to make significant capital investments and create new jobs at our facilities. Our customers tell me regularly that they are looking forward to a day in the near future when they can wager legally on their favorite sporting event. It feels like we are very close to providing them with that opportunity and for that, we are appreciative.”
The next step is to have SB 111 appear in another committee hearing before it can progress further. That apparently hasn’t yet been added to the schedule, but Ohio lawmakers understand the urgency of pushing the matter. In addition to picking up lost revenue that came as a result of COVID-19, Pennsylvania and Indiana already offer sports gambling, and Ohio is currently sending sports gamblers out of state, leading to massive amounts of lost income.