Members of the Ohio Select Committee on Gaming once again expressed their desire for an approval date of June 30 for the state’s sports betting bill, as the committee met yet again to shape bill SB 176.

No votes or official action were taken on the bill. Several representatives from sportsbook companies and Ohio professional sports organizations did appear at the committee meeting to discuss online license availability and the importance of not over saturating the market.

Ohio sports betting bill to allow for 40 licenses

Introduced in early May, Ohio’s sports betting bill includes two types of sports betting licenses. Type A licenses will include state entities that have the ability to bank a bet, such as the state’s 11 casinos and racinos. Type B licenses will be for future brick-and-mortar sportsbooks. Twenty licenses of each type will be available for interested parties. Each type of license will cost $1 million for three years and a 10% tax rate will be set on sports betting revenue.

Both Type A and Type B licenses will allow for online sports betting partnerships. These partnerships will be decided by the free market and no special considerations will be made for any entities in the process.

Industry reps debate Ohio online sports betting licenses

Several gaming industry representatives presented testimony during the committee meeting expressing their displeasure that the online licenses would be available for any business and not be tethered to exiting casinos.

Eric Schippers, senior vice president, public affairs and government relations for Penn National Gaming, submitted written testimony and warned the committee about allowing “fly-by-night” companies being awarded gaming licenses. He pointed to Tennessee where a license was awarded to a company without strong internal controls or incentives to follow the “strict rules and regulations that casino operators and their tethered sports betting operating partners must follow.”

The business was able to launder thousands of dollars through its gaming license before being noticed.

“If we lose a license in one jurisdiction, or are even penalized by regulators for a mis-step, it has consequences in all the other jurisdictions in which we’re licensed. As public companies, our licenses are our most precious commodities,” he wrote.

Kyle Ross, a representative for the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) in Ohio also submitted written testimony to the committee and expressed interest in the state giving the Tennis In The Land WTA tour event access to a Type A license.

If each professional men’s sports franchise is offered access to a Type A license, he wrote, the WTA event should be offered one as well.

“I love Ohio’s men’s professional sports organizations and I wish to take nothing away from them, to advocate for the inclusion of ours is not to suggest the exclusion of others. I mentioned that tennis generates more betting globally than any of the our peers in MLB, NFL, NBA, NHL or PGA; only soccer eclipses tennis. As such, we have a strong claim as valuable producers and contributors to the industry in Ohio and on this merit deserve inclusion in any distribution of online licenses awarded specifically to Ohio-based professional sports organizations,” he wrote.