Less than a week after Senate Bill 176 (“SB 176”) was introduced, significant changes have been made and will be introduced via a substitute bill soon. At the first hearing of the Senate Select Committee on Gaming since SB 176 was introduced, sponsors Manning and Antani announced a substitute bill will be introduced soon, which will make several key changes.
Sports Gaming Facility + Casinos/Racinos
One of the changes is to authorize casinos or racinos that receive a Type B license (brick and mortar license) to build a sports gaming facility within their existing casino or racino premises. The original bill allowed casino and racinos to apply for a Type B licenses, but prohibited them from building the licensed facility within their current premises.
Connection to Ohio
Another change was made to the requirements for applicants of a Type A license, which will authorize the licensee to offer online or mobile sports gaming. Under the expected substitute bill, all Type A sports gaming agents must have a connection to Ohio, including a requirement that they maintain at least one place of business in Ohio. The purpose of this change, per the sponsors, is to avoid untethered online operators with no presence in Ohio. Additionally, Type A sports gaming agents will be authorized to contract with as many mobile app providers as they wish, assuming those providers hold a management services provider license from the Ohio Casino Control Commission.
No More “First-Come, First Served”
Finally, another key change was the elimination of language stating that licenses would be awarded on a “first-come, first-served” basis. The purpose of this elimination, per the sponsors, is to provide the Casino Control Commission with discretion to instead choose the strongest applicants to receive licenses. The proposed change will authorize the Commission to consider various factors when comparing applicants, with the goal of ensuring license holders are best positioned to provide the services for which they are licensed. One of those factors is regional geography; specifically referring to the type and volume of economic development the applicant may bring to the state.
An update will be provided once the substitute bill is released and as further changes are proposed.
This article was co-authored by Robert Dove, a gaming law attorney with Kegler Brown, and Mike Zatezalo, chair of the firm’s Gaming Law practice. Robert and Mike will continue to provide updates on this evolving legislation and are already partnering with established operators and emerging businesses on potential licensure, lobbying assistance and supply chain strategy as those businesses prepare to maximize their opportunities in anticipation of new sports betting opportunities in Ohio.