The Ohio state legislature failed at passing a sports betting bill last session and doesn’t have any legislation currently in the works to legalize it in the current session. Regardless, the state’s governor believes that it’s coming soon.
In a press conference Monday, Gov. Mike DeWine said that legalized sports betting is “inevitable,” while alluding to the fact that his citizens are either betting in neighboring states or on unregulated offshore online books.
“Sports betting is already in Ohio. We are just not regulating it,” said DeWine. “This is just something that I think is inevitable and it’s coming to Ohio.”
The House passed a sports betting bill last year, but it ultimately died in the Senate. Even without another bill circulating currently, DeWine went on to say that legislators are “working that process” and that he will weigh in on any proposal at the current time.
Ohio is surrounded by states with legal sports betting and DeWine could be worried about tax dollars leaving the state. The same argument was used by a pro-gambling group that successfully pushed for expanded gambling in Nebraska.
Pennsylvania, Indiana, West Virginia and Michigan all have expanded gambling markets and legal sports betting of some sort. Michigan and Pennsylvania have all forms of gaming both online and at brick-and-mortar establishments.
Kentucky, Ohio’s neighbor to the south, is the only state that it shares a border with that doesn’t have sports betting. The state’s governor Andy Beshear, however, was elected in part because of his pro-gambling campaign. Recently, he has been outspoken about bringing sports betting to the state.
DeWine’s comments don’t necessarily mean that any legislation will come through, but when a politician makes a decisive statement like this, it holds some weight. Last December, a Connecticut lawmaker said sports betting was a lock to come to the state in 2021. The government agreed to terms on a sports betting agreement with one of the two major tribes Tuesday afternoon.