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GOP lawmakers in Ohio introduce plan to legalize sports betting, mobile apps

GOP lawmakers in Ohio introduce plan to legalize sports betting, mobile apps
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Ohio state GOP lawmakers on Thursday unveiled legislation that seeks to legalize sports betting in casinos and bars and on mobile phone apps. 

The bill proposes issuing 40 sports betting licenses across Ohio, with 20 being given for mobile app betting and the other 20 for sports bars and other similar locations. 

State Sen. Kirk Schuring (R), who crafted the bill, introduced the measure along with joint sponsors Sens. Niraj Antani (R) and Nathan Manning (R). 

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“Gaming is already here but not legally,” Schuring said in a statement announcing the bill Thursday. “My priority is to make sure this bill focuses on broad based economic development, that provides no special privileges for any gaming business or organization.”

“This is free market driven, and comes with oversight from existing Ohio agencies with gaming experience to make sure Ohioans are not being taken advantage of by illegal gaming,” he added. 

Ohio lawmakers have attempted to put forth legislation to legalize sports betting in the state following a 2018 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that struck down the federal ban on states authorizing the practice. 

Ohio’s neighboring states of Pennsylvania, Michigan and Indiana already allow sports betting at casinos. 

Under the Ohio bill, each sports betting license would cost $1 million and last three years, and would be issued on a first come, first serve basis.

The Ohio Casino Control Commission would oversee the licenses and sports betting regulations if the measure is passed and signed into law. 

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The law also calls for a 10 percent tax on net revenue from the betting operations, which Schuring in his press release Thursday said would go toward public and private education. 

Additionally, 2 percent would be directed toward services for those with a gambling addictions or other gaming problems. 

Schuring told The Associated Press that it was not clear yet exactly how much total money would be made off of the proposal, though he added the legislation was “not about revenue generation.” 

In a statement, Antani said, “This bill will legalize sports betting and charitable E-Bingo in Ohio through a free market approach, while safely expanding gaming in our state.” 

“Ohioans want this, and they’ve made it clear to me, they want it now,” he added. 

Meanwhile, Manning called the bill “a win for taxpayers and the economy.”

“Sports gambling is already here, Ohio just isn’t benefiting from it,” he added. “This bill is fair, no one gets a special benefit and the state has expert level diverse oversight.” 

The bill, which Schuring said was developed with the help of eight hearings and testimony from 50 individuals, is scheduled to go before state Senate committees next week.