About the time The Masters begins, and cheers over “cue ball” can be heard in Cleveland and Cincinnati, Ohio, Ohio residents will learn the fate of sports game legislation that has been in the making for several years.
But where the end product is going is unclear.
Governor Mike DeWine (R) announced earlier this month when he told reporters he was confident the state of Buckeye would soon approve sports betting.
“Sports games already exist in Ohio. Ohio just doesn’t regulate it, ”said DeWine told reporters during a press conference on March 1st.
Ryan Soultz, vice president of government affairs at Boyd Gaming Corporation, agreed during a key committee hearing last week.
“Many Ohioans, especially those who are not ready to go to a neighboring state, rely on offshore locations that are unregulated and offer no consumer protection, ”he said in prepared remarks to the Senate Select Committee on Gaming.
DeWine believes the industry is “inevitable” in Ohio and predicts that “sports games are sure to come to Ohio”.
The Senate announced a special committee in January, the aforementioned gambling committee to make laws specific.
State Senator Kirk Schuring (R) is chairman of the panel and hopes to have something ready in early April after the Easter and Passover holidays.
Unlike many other state legislations Ohio doesn’t have a deadline. This session, which began on January 4th, is expected to close on December 31st.
Over the past few weeks, the committee has heard from stakeholders including sports teams, local business people, state lottery officials, and myriad others. Everyone wants to be part of the action or at least have a say in shaping the end product. The suggestions seem endless.
The final hearing for those interested is Wednesday.
The Big Guys Vs. Small Businesses
The Ohio Lottery, which manages the state’s multitude of lottery offerings, distributed more than $ 1.15 billion Ohio students last year from revenue.
There are also four traditional retail casinos across the state. These properties generated more than $ 637 million in revenue that was distributed across the state.
Last week, Greg Ehrlich, president of Beck Suppliers Inc., an Ohio-based family business that operates more than two dozen convenience stores across the state, told officials that all sports and mobile games laws must include small businesses.
“We also heard some interests about sports betting, as if this could only be done in a casino and on a mobile app. That would be terribly unfortunate given the many ways convenience stores could participate in sports betting, let alone the revenue convenience stores could generate for schools in Ohio, ”Ehrlich told the panel in prepared remarks.
But established casinos and other interested parties want to make sure that whoever controls the process knows what they are doing. They argue because the problems and funds involved are so great that the potential for economic disaster when in the wrong hands is huge.
During several weeks of testimony, everyone from William Hill to Miami Valley Gaming and Columbus Blue Jackets – among countless others – have weighed.
The Cleveland Cavaliers aren’t waiting for sports betting approval to lure fans into their operations.
The NBA franchise announced last week It was a partnership with Betway. Under the multi-year contract, Betway will be advertised across the franchise and fans will be able to participate in certain Betway games.
“Sports games are an exciting and fast growing industry and we are excited to bring the Betway Big Pick to our fans, ”said Shelly Cayette, senior vice president of global partnerships for the Cavs.
“We are proud to partner with one of the pre-eminent platforms in the field, Betway, to strengthen their presence and connectivity across the Cleveland market and our global fan base,” she added.
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