(WKBN) – People in Ohio who bet on sports are still waiting for the state legislature to make it legal, and there’s a chance it could get done before the end of the year.
Ask Trumbull County State Senator Sean O’Brien what the chances are of legalizing sports gambling before the end of year, and he’ll start his answer with a laugh.
“I would say 50/50,” he laughed.
O’Brien was one of the architects of Senate Bill 111 to legalize sports gambling in Ohio. The bill has been around for nearly two years.
“We are on dash-17 on that bill, substituting and changing things. So it’s gone through a lot of changes,” O’Brien said.
According to O’Brien, sports gambling in Ohio would be run by the casino commission, and only the 15 existing casinos and racinos will be eligible for licenses.
The initial fee would be $100,000 for five years. Net revenues would be taxed at between 8 and 10%.
Each casino would have what are known as two “skins,” meaning locations where bets could be placed. One skin would likely be the actual casino or racino. The other skin would likely be used for an online betting site that could be used only within Ohio itself.
“I talked with the president of the Senate today. He seems optimistic we’ll be able to get something moving and back over to the House. So it’s looking promising but time is of the essence. We’re almost at the end of our legislative calendar so it’s going to be a close one,” O’Brien said.
A bill to legalize gambling already passed in the House in May. The vote was 83 to 10.
“It was one of my first votes as a recently sworn-in state representative,” said Mahoning County State Rep. Al Cutrona.
Cutrona voted for it, and though he speculates on what the final bill would look like, he still thinks legalized sports betting is a good idea.
“I think it’s a great opportunity to stimulate growth, make us very relevant considering that there’s other states all surrounding us actually that currently have sports betting,” Cutrona said.
Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Indiana and Michigan have made it legal. Only Kentucky has not.
If the sports betting bill does not pass before year’s end, it will have to be reintroduced. But the work has already been done so it may be just a matter of voting.