Gamblers who like to bet a certain set of numbers might want to add 316 to their favorites. That’s the number of a bill introduced recently in the Ohio Senate to create the framework for sports wagering in Ohio.
A U.S. Supreme Court ruling in May that states may legalize sports wagering opened the door to the legislature’s consideration. Keeping legislators focused on the task will be the potential for initiated petitions to be pursued — either by gaming interests or citizens’ groups — to hijack control of legalized sports betting in a constitutional amendment.
So far Senate Bill 316 consists of a single sentence: “It is the intent of the General Assembly to develop and enact legislation legalizing sports wagering.” The bill’s bipartisan sponsors are from northeast Ohio, Sen. John Eklund, R-Munson Township, and Sen. Sean O’Brien, D-Bazetta.
Hearings could be held this fall to begin putting parameters on sports wagering in Ohio.
Legislators are right to be concerned that outside interests will act if they don’t on sports betting. Casino gambling was authorized in a constitutional amendment pushed by the gaming industry and approved by voters in 2009. But the earliest such an issue could appear on the ballot is November 2019. That should allow plenty of time for a thoughtful legislative approach to be developed and passed.