Sports Betting Legislation Updates: Ohio, Maine, New Jersey

  • The Ohio Senate approved a sports betting legalization bill, which now heads to the House
  • Maine lawmakers have proposed last-minute amendments to a sports betting legalization bill
  • A bill in New Jersey to allow betting on in-state college sports has also made progress
judge's gavel on top of legislative documents
Sports betting legislation measures have made progress in the states of Maine, New Jersey, and Ohio this week. [Image:]

Update June 17, 2021: The Maine Senate passed the amended version of LD 1352 on Thursday with a vote of 23-12 in favor. The legislation awaits consideration by the House.

Roundup of the action in three states

It has been another busy few days for sports betting across the United States. The Ohio Senate has given the green light to a sports betting legalization bill, voting 30-2 on Wednesday in favor of the measure. It also approved a bill that will allow college athletes to earn money for the first time in the state for the use of their likeness, images, and names.

The two bills will now be up for consideration in the House.

In Maine, lawmakers made amendments to a sports betting bill just hours before the adjournment of the legislative session on Wednesday. The Senate will reportedly have an extended session during which to consider the amendments and vote on the bill.

Finally, a bill in New Jersey is progressing that would allow bettors to place wagers on in-state college teams and in-state college sports fixtures. Current legislation prohibits bets on games or tournaments involving New Jersey college teams or fixtures that feature teams from other states but take place in New Jersey.

Sports betting edging closer in Ohio

The Ohio Senate Select Committee on Gaming chairman Senator Kirk Schuring previously said he hopes the sports betting legalization bill will be in front of the governor by the end of June.

The Ohio Senate GOP Twitter page shared news of the approval of SB 176 on Wednesday:

The measure would see the issuance of 58 licenses, up from the 40 licenses that were part of the original version of the bill. Casinos and racetracks in Ohio would be eligible for the 25 online sports betting licenses available. These license holders could launch an online sportsbook straight away and apply to roll out another platform after one year. The other 33 licenses would be for retail sportsbooks at facilities such as racetracks, casinos, betting stores, and sports bars.

The bill would allow betting on college sports fixtures involving Ohio college teams, in addition to permitting betting kiosks at premises including nightclubs and bars. The Ohio Lottery Commission would also be able to run a sports betting pool. If the legislation gets full approval, the Ohio Casino Control Commission can begin accepting sports betting license applications on January 1 and start issuing licenses by April 1, 2022.

approximately $17m worth of tax revenue in the first fiscal year

Ohio estimates that it could earn approximately $17m worth of tax revenue in the first fiscal year of having legal sportsbooks up and running. SB 176 proposes earmarking 98% of this tax revenue for education programs and the remaining 2% for a problem gambling fund.

Last-minute amendments in Maine

Maine lawmakers have proposed a number of amendments to the LD 1352 sports betting bill. While the original version did not have a cap on online licenses, the bill amendments seemingly propose a limit of just three online sports betting licenses.

It does not appear that online sportsbooks would need to be tethered to a land-based gaming facility. Some of the other changes include a rise in the two-year license fee from $20,000 to $100,000.

a limit of just three online sports betting licenses

The amendments also clarify language about betting on tournaments involving college teams from Maine, preventing advertisers from targeting people younger than 21, and allocating a percentage of sports betting tax revenue to certain racing bodies and the Agricultural Fair Promotion Fund.

The Senate reconvenes on Thursday.

A potential ballot question in New Jersey

In New Jersey, a state Assembly panel advanced the SCR 133 college sports betting bill on Wednesday. The measure pushes for the inclusion of a question on the November ballot, with a view to changing the state’s constitution.

The question reads: “Do you approve amending the Constitution to permit wagering through casinos and current or former horse racetracks on all college sport or athletic events?”

The main concern that lawmakers had when originally preventing this type of betting was the integrity of college games. The state’s sports betting regulator, the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement, has since established a track record of strict oversight and of ensuring integrity is upheld. Its efforts have helped to ease the concerns of legislators.

SCR133 has already gotten approval from the Senate. It now only requires the go-ahead from the full Assembly before Governor Phil Murphy can sign the bill into law.

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