Lawmakers in Ohio are taking the first tentative steps toward the legalization of sports betting in the state.
While it’s not a slam dunk that legal wagering on sporting events is coming to the Buckeye State anytime soon, it is the first sign of compelling progress on that front.
Two new bills were introduced before the Ohio House of Representative this week featuring language with the intent “to develop and enact legislation legalizing sports wagering.”
The doors have been throw wide open to any state wishing to create a regulatory structure around sports betting after the Supreme Court made a landmark ruling on the matter in May.
The bills will act as something of a placeholder until lawmakers can gather more information on how they’d like to see sports betting rolled out. Baby steps, according to the bill’s main sponsor.
“There are no preconceived notions as to what that pathway may look like, nor is there a timeline,” State Representative David Greenspan said to NBC affiliate, WCMH-TV.
Courting Public Opinion
The vague wording of the bills is intentional, as legislators are hoping to get plenty of public feedback before moving forward.
The idea, according to bill co-sponsor Sean O’Brien, is to spark a conversation in Ohio about what sports betting regulation should look like. That public feedback will help shape any future bills to be introduced to the House.
O’Brien has his own thoughts about what the new regulations should entail, according to WCMH-TV.
“My thinking right now is we already have casinos and racinos set up,” he said. “I’d kind of like to keep it in those institutions because they are set up for gaming. I’m not sure we want it in every 7-Eleven and every bar.”
There are sure to be other concerns as well. Dixie Jeffers is the coach of the women’s basketball team at Capital University. She worries about impressionable young adults with access to sports betting is a recipe for trouble.
“It’s tough to have the checks and balances, and as a parent, I would be petrified to have to deal with that, as a coach it very much scares me,” Jeffers said.
Tick Tock of the Clock
Lawmakers will attempt to address such concerns while balancing the fact that the calendar is a consideration.
Neighbouring states Pennsylvania and West Virginia have already made significant progress on sports betting legislation and are expected to give the green light sometime this year.
Regulators in Ohio are well aware that being late to the game could mean losing out on a significant chunk of market share.
“If Ohio is going to participate in this type of activity, I believe that we would be prudent in being an early adopter,” Greenspan told WCMH-TV.
House representatives supporting the bill hope they can fill in the fine details over the next month and present an updated bill by September.
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