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Ohio Online Lottery Clause Added To Sen. Coley’s Sports Betting Bill

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Online lottery ticket sales may soon be coming to Ohio. State Sen. Bill Coley has confirmed that the provision will be added to his existing sports betting bill on its way to the Ohio Senate. The legislation is co-sponsored by state Sen. John Eklund and state Rep. Dave Greenspan in Ohio’s House of Representatives.

If successful, Ohio will become the eighth state to legalize online lottery games. Rhode Island and Virginia both enabled online lottery games in their states this year to marked success. This comes as COVID-19 has produced decimating effects on many state economies.

House Bill 194

HB 194, the House’s version of Ohio sports betting legislation, was passed in the Ohio House in May 2020. As the movement toward expanded gaming in the state picks up steam, the Senate will review Coley’s amended bill with three months remaining in the legislative session.

As chair of the state Senate’s Committee on Government and Oversight Reform, Coley remains optimistic about his revised bill’s reception on the floor. “You can buy a car on a cellphone in Ohio but not a lottery ticket,” Coley said. “We need to look at that. I want to make sure that, if we do a legalized bill, offerings under the bill are maximized to everybody’s satisfaction.”

As for Eklund’s thoughts on an amendment to add online lottery sales to the proposed sports betting provisions, he said, “If such a law is needed to redouble everybody’s confidence that it’s OK to do it, I’m not opposed to that. I think it’s worked very well in Michigan. That does not offend me, and I don’t think that it would impede the progress of the sports wagering bill.”

Draw tickets are available for purchase online in many states. In Ohio, they don’t elicit much of a negative reaction, either. However, the amendment proposed by Coley includes the sale of eInstants. These are online lottery games Ohioans can purchase and play in most web browsers and on mobile devices. Such games are likened to scratch-offs in terms of payout structure and slots in terms of interactivity and dynamic experiences.

Pushback from the Ohio House

While the Ohio senators are on board with the current sports betting provisions and amendment to include online lottery sales, House sponsor Greenspan remains hesitant, taking the position that the addition has raised issues of regulation.

As it stands, the Senate version of the bill provides for Ohio’s Casino Control Commission (CCC) to regulate sports betting and online lottery activity. The House version of the bill empowered the Ohio Lottery Commission with that responsibility. As such, Greenspan prefers the lottery provision to be left out of the sports betting bill completely.

What’s next for Ohio online lottery sales

While the Ohio Senate and House of Representatives haven’t met eye to eye just yet, both groups remain willing to work together to find an amenable resolution. Many more conversations will need to be had, particularly, those around betting taxation, fees and operator licenses.

If progress remains unimpeded, a committee hearing would take place before the November elections. That would leave just two months for a floor vote before the end of the year’s legislative session.

According to Eklund, they are at the beginning stages of discussion: “[The details] are all subject to conversation with other senators, state reps and other interested parties. To one degree or another, all of those things are placeholders.”

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