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Ohio senators propose sports betting legislation

Nine professional sports organizations have testified in favor of legalized sports betting.
Sports betting
The football odds betting board at a Las Vegas casino sportsbook. (Brian P. Gielczyk | Shutterstock.com)

COLUMBUS — Saying it’s going to be highly regulated and an economic development opportunity, four Ohio state senators unveiled legislation Thursday to allow sports betting in the state.

Sen. Kirk Schuring, R-Canton, said Thursday at a news conference he wants the General Assembly to pass comprehensive gaming legislation before the end of June, and hearings are expected to begin next week. The bill would allow for two types of sports betting licenses, while also allowing electronic bingo machines at veterans and fraternal organizations around the state.

“Gaming is here today in Ohio. All we want to do is put guardrails around it to make sure it’s done correctly,” said Schuring, chair of the Senate Select Committee on Gaming. “We think it’s time we take action. We are anxious to work with our partners in the House and in the governor’s office. We think we have a very good basis to get this done.”

Nine professional sports organizations have testified in favor of legalized sports betting. Schuring said the Ohio Casino Control Commission will make the decision regarding collegiate sports betting.

A 10 percent tax will be levied on each transaction with the proceeds going to public and private education, along with gambling addiction programs.

The legislation would create 40 sports betting licenses broken into Type A and Type B categories.

“It’s going to be regulated. I think we have a comprehensive regulatory plan in place. I think we have a good bill,” Schuring said.

Type A licenses are for facilities already in place to bank a bet, such as the 11 racinos and casinos in the state. Type B licenses will be available to brick and mortar sports books that want to open, which would include mobile apps and proposition betting.

“We believe in the free market. We’re going to let the free market decide,” Schuring said. “If there’s another entity out there that can come up with the money to bank the bet, come to Ohio. We think it’s going to be an economic development opportunity for Ohio. One of the requirements is having to show it’s going to help economic development.”

Ebingo machines also are part of the bill, allowing veterans groups and fraternal organizations to supplement or replace current paper pull-tab games with electronic versions that have to be approved as non-slot machines by the Casino Control Commission.

The bill also would create a central database to allow the attorney general to monitor those machines and require more stringent background checks.

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