Bill could leave Ohio casinos without sports betting

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CLEVELAND – Some Ohio casinos and racinos could face the loss of tickets if the state Senate sports betting legislation, which gives priority to professional teams to obtain a stationary sports book license, ultimately goes into effect.

The bill was approved by the Senate on Wednesday and submitted to the House of Representatives for consideration. It assigns a total of 30 sports betting to the districts based on the population. If professional sports teams in Cleveland, Columbus, and Cincinnati all decided to apply for licenses, casinos and racinos in Cuyahoga, Franklin, and Hamilton Counties would be banned under the Senate Sports Betting Bill.

Cuyahoga County, which includes Cleveland, has three professional sports teams as well as a casino in the city center and a Racino in the suburbs.

Dan Reinhard, senior vice president of JACK Cleveland Casino and spokesman for casino and Racino group Get Gaming Right Ohio, said Friday that the Senate bill made casino employees “disrespectful”.

“An artificial upper limit that locks out gambling companies in the largest and most populous districts makes little sense,” said Reinhard. “We know how to do it. This is the business we are in. We will work with all parties to ensure that this cap is addressed. “

The original Senate bill, introduced in early May, completely excluded casinos and racinos. An “omnibus” amendment added to the bill on the day of the Senate vote set license limits and priority status for professional sports teams.

The Ohio Professional Sports Coalition, which represents professional teams throughout, and The Memorial Tournament, an annual golf tournament outside of Columbus, issued a statement Thursday saying that the Senate bill “provides fair market access for Ohio’s professional sports organizations who produce the games ”. that make sports betting possible. “

Co-sponsor, Senator Nirja Antani, a Republican from Miamisburg, was critical of casino organizations in the state in an interview on Thursday.

“The professional sports teams are companies like other companies,” said Antani. “You didn’t push yourself into Ohio through a constitutional amendment. Casinos lobbied very hard, more than anyone else. If it were up to them, they would be the only ones in this law. “

The professional sports coalition also campaigned for a piece of action.

Curt Steiner, a spokesman for the professional sports coalition, said on Friday that he could not comment on the licensing plans of individual teams or the tournament. He referred to a statement made in April prior to the introduction of the Senate Act, in which said coalition members pleaded for everyone to control a sports betting retail outlet “at or near the respective sports facility”.

The statement also indicated that sports books are being developed at or near sports venues in other states.

The Memorial Tournament would be an odd place to host sports betting considering the tournament is held once a year at a private club in Dublin’s upscale Columbus suburb.

It is likely that the House of Representatives will seek numerous changes to the Senate version. Rep. Bill Seitz, a Republican from Cincinnati, said the House of Representatives did not draft its own version because it expected to work with the Senate while drafting the bill, which he believed did not occur.

Seitz is unhappy that the Senate version would ban a casino and a Racino in Hamilton County, which are eligible for two “Class B” brick-and-mortar licenses under Senate law, if the Cincinnati Reds and Bengals both apply.

“They artificially limit the ability of logical places to obtain a Class B license with this limit per county,” he said.