Ohio has joined the growing list of US states that are preparing to introduce legalised sports betting. A bipartisan bill was laid by senators John Eklund (Republican) and Sean O’Brien (Democrat) before the state senate last week with just one single line notifying lawmakers of their ambitions. It read: “It is the intent of the General Assembly to develop and enact legislation legalising sports wagering.”
By O’Brien’s own admission, the shell bill is short on detail and simply written in order to gain traction for legal sports betting in Ohio. The ball is effectively rolling and now senators and the general public will be able to have their input heard as a new law is created.
In an initial statement to the press, he said: “My thinking right now is we already have casinos and racinos set up. 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.” Senator Ecklund told local media: “My sense right now is, yeah, there is very likely an appetite for this in the Buckeye State.”
One of the major sticking points in progressing the bill will inevitably be the tax rate set for sports wagering. Ohio’s casinos pay a 33 per cent levy with racinos taxed a touch higher at 33.5 per cent. With profit margins on sports betting widely acknowledged as being thinner than cigarette paper, turnover would need to be incredibly high to justify such levels of taxation.