Could Ohio’s Sports Betting Law Bring More Wagering Options to Pennsylvania?

Written By Nathan Frederick on May 12, 2021
Ohio Looks to Join PA in Passing Sports Betting

The next domino is about to fall.

Last week, senators in Ohio announced a proposal to legalize sports betting in the Buckeye State. 

According to Legal Sports Report, the initial proposal (which is expected to undergo some revisions) plans for 40 total licenses, with them split evenly between retail and mobile sportsbooks. All of the licenses will be acquired through an open bidding process.

Details of the proposed Ohio sports betting legislation

The proposal also specifies that sportsbooks will be classified by two types of licenses. Type A licensees will likely handle the sportsbook risk and operations themselves. These figure to be established casinos, racinos, and betting brands.

Type B licensees, however, would be able to outsource the bookmaking to other operators. These licenses could appear at stadiums, arenas, and other popular places, such as sports bars.

One of the first revisions of the Ohio bill should clear up language that will enable Ohio’s existing casinos and racinos to offer both a sports betting app and on-site sportsbook.

Those revisions along with other potential issues will be topics of discussion Wednesday afternoon when the Ohio Senate’s Select Committee on Gaming holds a hearing at 4 p.m.

And considering the budget shortfalls left by the COVID pandemic and the general momentum of sports gambling, Ohio’s efforts should eventually lead to legalized sports betting.

“At the end of the day, the people of Ohio want it,” Niraj Antani, a sponsor for the bill told the Dayton Daily News. “They wanted it since 2018 when the Supreme Court ruled states can in fact legalize sports betting. And that’s what this bill would do.”

What would Ohio’s sports betting law mean for Pennsylvania?

Since some of Ohio’s neighbors (West Virginia, Indiana, Illinois) already have legalized sports betting, Ohio’s decision may not have a tremendous economic impact on Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania’s brick-and-mortar sportsbooks draw the majority of their business within the state. And most online betting traffic also comes from in-state residents. But PA draws at least some minor traffic from states like Ohio, New York, and Maryland.

Another potential result from the Ohio efforts could be a movement toward more on-site sportsbooks in other states. Perhaps Pennsylvania could get more of these, in addition to things like betting kiosks in sports bars.

Many people expect that Ohio’s legislation will eventually lead to some sportsbook locations at stadiums and arenas within the state. As more neighboring states move in that direction, it’s possible Pennsylvania and others could follow suit.

PA betting options continue expanding beyond casinos

Pennsylvania already has sportsbook lounges at the Wells Fargo Center (since Oct. 2019) and PPG Paints Arena (since April 2021). But those BetRivers sportsbook lounges do not have betting windows or kiosks, nor will the Fox Bet lounge at Lincoln Financial Field. Interested bettors still need to wager on a mobile app, but that could eventually change. 

PA also does not yet have betting kiosks at sports bars. But BetMGM and Buffalo Wild Wings have co-branding plans in place, and Parx is trying to move OTB and sports betting operations to Chickie’s & Pete’s restaurants in Philadelphia.

The other added benefit of the Ohio legislation is simply the expansion of nationwide legal gambling opportunities. With the piecemeal framework of sports betting that presently exists in the United States, players are often restricted from making wagers based solely on the state border they cross over when traveling.

With similar expansion efforts underway in New York and Maryland, Pennsylvania residents may soon be able to safely wager throughout the region.

The Ohio law may provide a pathway for betting pools too

According to the Dayton Daily News, Ohio’s sports betting bill would also authorize the Ohio Lottery Commission to run sports pools for wagering. Bettors would pay a $20 entry fee to join a pool. The money divided equally among winners, after the commission’s 10% rake.

So a lot is happening in Ohio. And for fans of sports betting, it’s promising news.

The gaming movement is likely to gain another state. And perhaps some of Ohio’s ideas could find their way into Pennsylvania, and betting options will increase.

Don’t expect sports betting in Ohio before 2022

Time will tell. But it looks like Ohio sports betting will not launch before Jan. 1, 2022. That means for the time being including most of the upcoming NFL season, Ohio sports betting traffic may continue to migrate across state lines, Pennsylvania among them.

But the next domino is about to fall.

Lead image credit: AP Photo/Bryan Woolston

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Nathan Frederick

Nathan Frederick is an award-winning writer with more than 1,000 published bylines and two decades of journalism experience. His work has won awards from the Pennsylvania Society of Professional Journalists, the Keystone Press Association, and the Associated Press Sports Editors. He has also authored three books, one of which debuted as an Amazon No. 1 New Release.

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