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Ohio Sports Betting Legal but There Is a But

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Cleveland Browns fans look on prior to the game against the Las Vegas Raiders at FirstEnergy Stadium on December 20, 2021. Photo by Nick Cammett/Getty Images via AFP.

Sports Betting is now legal in the state of Ohio, but it could be a while before Ohioans can place a wager on their favorite team.

The long road to sports betting legalization in Ohio wrote perhaps its most important chapter Wednesday. Governor Mike DeWine signed House Bill 29, which paves the way for a broad legal sports betting platform into law. With the signature, Ohio became the 33rd state in America to adopt such a platform.

“It will allow Ohio’s casinos, racinos, and Ohio’s 10 sports franchises to contract with an online mobile app provider, like FanDuel and DraftKings,” Senate Majority Leader Kirk Schuring said. “It also will allow for (brick-and-mortar sportsbooks) that can contract with an online mobile app provider to do sports gaming within their facility.”

While great news that the legalization hurdles are over with, comes the realization that the first legal bet in the state is likely months, if not a year away. House Bill 29 has given regulators of the platform until January 1, 2023, to launch. Analysts feel that the state will take most of that time before starting to reap the benefits of legal sports betting.

Could Ohio Be a Top 5 State?

Once mature, the Ohio legal sports betting scene figures to be massive. Ohio currently has the 7th largest population in the country with 11.7 million residents. With legalization, it immediately becomes one of the most highly populated states in the country currently running its own legal sports betting platform. 

Ohio also boasts the NFL’s Cleveland Browns and Cincinnati Bengals, MLB’s Cleveland Indians, and Cincinnati Reds, the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers, the NHL’s Colombus Blue Jackets, and numerous high-level college sports programs. All are expected to provide a boon for the state’s industry right off the bat.

The Ohio Legislative Budget Office has identified as much as $3.35 billion to be generated by the Ohio legal sports betting market within a few years. That office envisions about $240 million in revenues in the first full year of operation. The state’s 10% tax rate would result in about $24 million in tax revenue. An estimated 98% of that tax windfall will go toward funding public and private K-12 education.

SEE ALSO: Positive News in Louisiana’s Legal Sports Betting Scene

Overwhelming Support

There were signals from Gov. DeWine that he would immediately sign any piece of legislation pertaining to legal sports betting for his state. He took a few days, but the inevitable signature came Wednesday. That was after lawmakers in the state overwhelmingly showed their support for the Bill.

The Ohio Senate passed the bill in 10 minutes when presented with it by a 31-1 vote. The House, which originally brought Bill 29 to the floor were quick as well in passing the Bill. This time by a 72-12 vote.

About that Jan. 1, 2023, Timeline

House Bill 29 has certainly given a fair amount of time for lawmakers to “do it right” in Ohio. The January 1, 2023, timeline looks to be more of a deadline rather than an actual launch date, however.

There have been whispers of an expedited process. “We want to get this up and running as soon as possible, but we’re building a whole new industry,” said Senator Kirk Schuring, the key proponent of legal sports betting in the state. “We’re hoping it can be done sooner (than 2023.)”

That said, there is still a lot of work to be done before Ohioans will be able to place a bet on professional, college sports or eSports.

Work To Do

House Bill 29 has certainly given a fair amount of time for lawmakers to “do it right” in Ohio. The January 1, 2023, timeline looks to be more of a deadline rather than an actual launch date, however.

There have been whispers of an expedited process. “We want to get this up and running as soon as possible, but we’re building a whole new industry,” said Sen. Schuring, the key proponent of legal sports betting in the state. “We’re hoping it can be done sooner (than 2023.)”

In Summary

It is certainly good news that sports betting has been legalized in the state of Ohio. Just which top-end providers enter the Ohio scene remains to be seen, but there is an expectation that all of the big names will be there.

In the meantime, neighbors Indiana, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia will continue to benefit from the throng of Ohio bettors.

That fact may just add a little motivation to the regulators’ timeline for getting something done. “It doesn’t mean it’s going to have to wait that long,” Schuring said. “They [the Ohio Casino Control Commission] feel pretty good that they’ll be able to get it done sooner than January 1st of 2023.”

Stay tuned.