Legalizing sports betting back for study

COLUMBUS — The on-again, off-again drive to legalize sports betting in Ohio that hit a brick wall in late 2020 is making a comeback.

The Ohio Senate will soon begin hearings by a committee into the pros and cons of legalizing gambling on professional and college sports.

Rep. Brigid Kelly, D- Cincinnati, was a co-sponsor of the plan that passed the Ohio House of Representatives late last year. The legislative session ended in December without it going to the Senate floor for a vote. She is optimistic it has a chance to pass in the new legislative session.

“If folks want to engage in sports betting they should be able to do it right here in a way that is safe for consumers and ultimately will benefit the kids throughout the state of Ohio,” Kelly said.

Her bill would have set aside funding for kids’ extracurricular activities in schools.

Kelly noted that the state of Indiana opened sports betting in late 2019. Before COVID hit and casinos were shut down for a time it was bringing in about $1 million a month in new tax revenues. And other states are adopting it too.

“We are being left behind. Everyone around us is passing sports betting and capitalizing on the opportunity for folks to play and those are resources that we can reinvest instead of Ohioans being forced to cross state borders and spend their money in other places,” Kelly said.

The newly created Senate Select Committee on Gaming will be chaired by Sen. Kirk Schuring, R-Canton. " I think it can be do it in a fair and equitable way but what that is going to look like, I can’t say because we need to let the process work,” Schuring said.

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