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Ohio Legal Sports Betting: House Bill 29
Ohio is one of the largest remaining sports markets to not have legal sports betting behind California and Texas.
It took several years and multiple attempts, but the Ohio state legislature finally approved a bill to legalize it. Attempts in 2018, 2020, and mid-2021 all failed before House Bill 29 was introduced. HB 29 was bipartisan and approved by wide margins on both sides on Dec. 8. On Dec. 22, Gov. Mike DeWine signed the bill into law. However, the road to accessible sports betting for Ohioans is only beginning.
Several editions and revisions of sports gaming rules have been released, the latest being on Jan. 31. Among the second set of rules is a hard cap on mobile operators having only four partnerships within the state.
Just a week after the latest rules were released, on Feb. 8, the Cleveland Cavaliers signed a deal with Fubo Gaming to be an official mobile betting partner. The deal includes a massive lounge in Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse dedicated to sports betting.
Ohio is the seventh-most populous state in the United States. Projections for potential betting revenue have been as high as $1 billion per year. With seven “big four” teams and one of the largest national brands in college athletics in the state, there’d be a large interest in sports betting from Ohio.
Opposition And Obstacles
Previous attempts failed because of disagreements on licensing. Some argue a 2009 amendment to the Ohio Constitution– which legalized casinos in the state– make it impossible for anyone other than the JACK Casino in Cleveland to host sports betting.
“To do it anywhere else would need an amendment to the constitution,” said Rob Walgate of the American Policy Roundtable in an interview with Cleveland’s WKYC 3.
Like all other states, the biggest obstacle with legalizing sports betting is the regulation and agreement on rules. In late January, the third edition of rules was released for consideration. It lays out the process for licensing and voluntary exclusion.
When Can We Expect Ohio Legal Sports Gambling?
The projected date is “by Jan. 31, 2022.” That, of course, is dependent on how quickly regulations can be signed off. There’s certainly pressure to launch sports betting in time for the 2022 NFL season. However, we did see New York launch its betting after the NFL regular season but in time for the NFL Playoffs.
While the state still has some work to do, they’re much closer to accessible sports betting than not at this point.
Stay up to date with TheLines for coverage on Ohio legal sports betting and developments on the process. For now, the Buckeye State will have to sit tight and wait for regulators to launch Ohio online sports betting.