It was American economist Thomas Sowell who said: “The least productive people are usually the ones who are most in favor of holding meetings.”
The meeting: a necessary method for moving ideas forward or a meandering quagmire that leads to gridlock and stagnating compromise. However you look at it, that’s where we are in Ohio in regards to sports betting legislation.
Ohio has a sports betting bill in the pipeline, and state Senator Kirk Schuring said in an Oct. 25 interview with News-Talk 1480 WHBC in Canton, that the legislation is currently in committee meetings. Schuring said he hopes the conference committee will occur next week.
Considering how long it takes to get a vote, to pass a bill, and to implement new gambling laws, that means most likely fans in Ohio will be waiting until 2022 before they can legally wager on the Buckeyes, Bengals, Browns, or the newly named Cleveland Guardians in MLB.
Schuring said the sports gaming bill is currently awaiting approval to move to the conference committee. The next step is to confer with the Speaker of the Ohio House to find out what that legislative body is thinking about the bill.
“(The process) is very similar to when we are in the final stages of the budget,” Schuring said. “The ultimate decisions have to be made by the Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate. We’re reaching a point of critical mass where we can finally get this done.”
After details are ironed out by the leaders of the two chambers of the Ohio legislature, the bill will move to the special sports betting conference committee, which consists of six elected leaders — three from the House and three from the State Senate.
If the committee pushes the bill to a floor vote, it will take passage from both bodies to become law. After that, there is a 90-day period required in Ohio before it takes effect. Optimistically, even if the bill is passed by Nov. 5, 2021, it wouldn’t be in effect in the state until after the Super Bowl is played next February, and well after the college football season has concluded. The state would need to put regulatory and oversight processes in place and accept applications for licensure by sportsbooks, also.
Schuring said the Senate is recommending that the application deadline be Feb. 15, 2022, and that applications be approved by April 15.
The quick take is this: Ohio sports fans won’t see legal sports betting in the Buckeye State for some time. Five to six months after the passage of the bill is an optimistic timeline.
Gov. Mike DeWine has indicated that he will sign a sports betting bill once it passes, but wrangling over application timelines and other details are keeping the matter out of committee and off the floor, while fans wait.