CLEVELAND (AP) — Some Ohio casinos and racinos could be left with losing tickets if the state Senate’s sports betting legislation giving professional teams priority for obtaining a brick-and mortar sports book licenses is ultimately enacted. The bill was approved Wednesday by the Senate and sent to the House for consideration. It assigns the 30 total sports books to counties based on population. If professional sports teams in Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati all decided to apply for licenses, casinos and racinos in Cuyahoga, Franklin and Hamilton counties would be shut out at the sports betting window of opportunity in the Senate’s bill.
Proposed bill could leave Ohio casinos without sports books | News, Sports, Jobs Cuyahoga County, which includes Cleveland, for example, has three professional sports teams as well as a downtown casino and a racino in the suburbs.
“An artificial cap that locks out gaming companies in the biggest, most populous counties doesn’t make a lot of sense,” Reinhard said. “We know how to do this. This is the business we’re in. We’re going to work with all parties to make sure this cap is dealt with.” The Ohio Professional Sports Coalition, which represents pro teams throughout and The Memorial Tournament, an annual golf tournament outside Columbus, issued a statement on Thursday that said the Senate bill provides “opportunities for fair market access to Ohio’s pro sports organizations, which produce the games that make sports betting possible.”
The original Senate bill introduced in early May excluded casinos and racinos altogether. An “omnibus” amendment added to the bill the day of the Senate vote prescribed the licensing limits and priority status for professional sports teams. Dan Reinhard, a senior vice president for the JACK Cleveland casino and a spokesperson for the casino and racino group Get Gaming Right Ohio, said Friday that the Senate bill “disrespects” casino employees.
Co-sponsor Sen. Niraj Antani, a Miamisburg Republican, in an interview on Thursday was critical of casino organizations in the state. The professional sports coalition also lobbied for a piece of the action.
The statement also pointed out there are sports books in development at or near sports venues in other states. “The professional sports teams are businesses just like other businesses,” Antani said. “They didn’t force their way into Ohio through a constitutional amendment. Casinos were lobbying very hard, lobbying more than anyone else. If they had their way, they would be the only ones in this bill.”
The Memorial Tournament would be an odd place to host a sports book considering that the tournament is held once a year at a private club in the upscale Columbus suburb of Dublin. “The professional sports teams are businesses just like other businesses,” Antani said. “They didn’t force their way into Ohio through a constitutional amendment. Casinos were lobbying very hard, lobbying more than anyone else. If they had their way, they would be the only ones in this bill.”
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