Legislator pushes sports gambling plan that would fall under Ohio Lottery Commission

Entering sports wagering would be the latest expansion for the Ohio Lottery, which began selling lottery tickets in 1974, added Keno gambling for taverns and other outlets in 2008, and began regulating slots-only racinos in 2012. 

CLEVELAND, Ohio - A state legislator behind a plan to legalize sports gambling is making his case that Ohio should join neighboring states in permitting such wagering, and that the Ohio Lottery Commission is the legal and best option to serve as the regulator.

Rep. Dave Greenspan’s plan introduced in the Ohio House differs from a Senate proposal that would instead put the Ohio Casino Control Commission in charge of regulating sports betting. But the competing plans are in agreement that wagering would take place in Ohio’s casinos, racinos and online.

“I believe we will have sports gaming in the state,” Greenspan told cleveland.com editors and reporters on Monday.

Greenspan, a Westlake Republican, said that under the House bill he is co-sponsoring with Cincinnati Democrat Brigid Kelly, betting could start about six months after the governor’s signature. But he declined to guess how long it will take to work out a deal in the legislature.

Possibly delaying action is that Greenspan and Sen. John Eklund, a Chardon Republican, have dug in to make case for their differing views on which state commission should regulate sports wagering. Greenspan said he hasn’t discussed the issue with Eklund in weeks.

Entering sports wagering would be the latest expansion for the Ohio Lottery, which began selling lottery tickets in 1974, added Keno gambling for taverns and other outlets in 2008, and began regulating slots-only racinos in 2012. But, in a difference from Ohio’s casinos, there are no slots games of skill at the racinos, right down to a ban on poker and blackjack machines at the racinos.

“We cannot offer games of skill,” lottery spokeswoman Danielle Frizzi-Babb told cleveland.com earlier this month. “That’s why there aren’t poker machines and games of skill at the racinos.”

Greenspan said that based in part on advice he has received from the Ohio Legislative Service Commission, sports gambling is a game of chance that could be treated as a lottery.

“A game of chance to me is a game in which the gambling has zero impact on the outcome of the event,” Greenspan said. "A game of skill is when you are participating and you have the opportunity to determine the outcome of the event.

“I view sports wagering as a game of chance, not a game of skill.”

Greenspan also noted Monday that he continues to adjust language in his proposal. Under its current form, the Greenspan said his bill would:

  • Permit sports wagering at Ohio’s casinos and racinos, remotely through the use of personal devices such a phones, and at neighborhood veterans and fraternal organization halls licensed by the lottery.
  • Allow wagering on both pro and college sports, including games played by Ohio teams.
  • Would offer sports leagues the option of obtaining Ohio wagering data free of charge so they could monitor activity on their sports.
  • Earmark the state profits for education.

The debate over the possible expansion into sports gambling took off last May when the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a federal law that barred gambling on football, basketball, baseball and other sports in most states.

Neighboring West Virginia and Pennsylvania are among eight states now offering sports wagering. Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine earlier this year predicted that sports gambling is on its way to Ohio, but he deferred to the legislature to determine how to proceed.

https://www.cleveland.com/casino/2019/04/legislator-pushes-sports-gambling-plan-that-would-fall-under-ohio-lottery-commission.html