After failing to pass a sports betting bill in 2020, the Ohio Senate began the process of getting to the finish line once more Wednesday as the Select Committee on Gaming convened.
The Ohio House passed a sports wagering bill in the middle of last year, but that legislation does not carry over into the new year. The biggest sticking point remained who would be in charge of conducting sports betting in the Buckeye State — the House bill passed with the Ohio Lottery as the state regulatory agency of choice while the Senate prefers the Ohio Casino Control Commission.
Chaired by Sen. Kirk Schuring, the Republican stressed the Select Committee would not be hearing legislation but also noted “there were four bills introduced last session that many of you were actively very involved with.” The expectation Schuring laid out is that there would be ample opportunity for everyone to offer thoughts — the committee will meet every Wednesday at 4 p.m. local time for an hour “and will last as long as they have to last depending on how many witnesses we have.”
Senate President Matt Huffman is also expected to be involved in the process, and Schuring expressed hope the committee “will create the momentum where this is a legislative process. We’re not going to ignore special interest and your advocacies either for or against something; we’re going to listen and we’ll try to be as fair as we can as we look to craft legislation that will hopefully pass.”
He added he was optimistic a bill would be passed and enacted into law because it would be coming from a legislative body. When ranking member and Democrat Cecil Thomas, a newcomer to the group, inquired whether the committee’s starting point was going to immediately deal with the points of contention or be all-encompassing, Schuring simply replied, “We’re going to start wherever the advocates want to start.”
Schuring continued that the focus should not be on the previous bills since the expectation is that the legislators who worked on them, including Rep. Brigid Kelly as well as former Rep. David Greenspan and Senators John Eklund and Sean O’Brien, are expected to provide their input.