Well, here we are again. Another day, another change to the Ohio sports betting bill.

Ohio continues its long and winding road towards legalized sports betting as members of the Senate tacked on sports betting language to an existing bill, HB 29, in an effort to reach its self-imposed goal of handing the bill off to Gov. Mike DeWine by June 30.

If approved by June 30, State Senator Kirk Schuring (R) previously said the bill would go into effect this October and the state would begin accepting applications for sports betting licenses on Jan. 1, 2022, with the goal of awarding licenses no later than April 1, 2022.

Ohio sports betting friendlier to state casinos?

Late Thursday the Senate unanimously approved tacking on an amended version of SB 176 to HB 29 to address concerns from representatives about the sports betting plan. SB 176 passed the Senate by a vote of 30-2 last week, but stakeholders had serious concerns about the number of available sports betting licenses and how they would be awarded through the program.

The bill now heads to the House for concurrence. The House will meet today, but can also meet twice next week if necessary.

Among the changes included in the newly amended bill is the removal of language that gives “preference” of a Type B license to Ohio professional sports franchises. Additionally, the maximum number of Type B licenses allowed in a county is now five, an increase from the original three.

This was a point of consternation for state casinos, as language SB 176 puts limits on the amount of Type B licenses, those for brick-and-mortar sportsbooks, in Ohio counties by population. This measure would have shut out existing casinos from Type B licenses that shared a county with professional sports franchises.

Shutting gambling companies out with an artificial cap in these counties, which are also the state’s most populous, does not make sense, Daniel Reinhard, Senior Vice President of Governmental Affairs for JACK Entertainment, told Saturday Tradition in an interview earlier this week.

I think they had a goal to get some geographic diversity in the state, I understand that, but the unintended consequence of shutting us out is just not something that will work for the gaming companies. We’ll continue to push hard and make that argument,” he said. 

The changes to the Ohio county license limits will now make it much easier for a casino that shares a county with a professional sports franchise to receive a Type B license.

Ohio sports betting bill changes

Here are the bill’s new changes:

  • Professional sports franchises are no longer given preference for Type B licenses.
  • An Ohio county with a population of 800,000 or more may have a maximum five Type B licenses, up from three in the original bill.
  • A county with 400,000 to 800,000 may have a maximum of three Type B licenses.
  • A county with 100,000 to 400,000 may have one Type B license.
  • A casino that receives a Type A license may have online sports betting skins, an increase from the original one.