iDEA Growth Member News:

  • SBC Americas, 3.31.21 – Sightline Payments secures $100m in strategic growth investment
    • Fintech company Sightline Payments, a developer of cashless, mobile, and omni-channel payment solutions for the gaming, lottery, sports betting, entertainment, and hospitality ecosystems, has secured $100m in strategic growth investment.
  • Barron’s, 3.31.21 – Paysafe Is Public, Again
    • Paysafe is a public company again after completing its $9 billion merger with Bill Foley’s latest blank-check company.

Overall Industry News:

Ohio:

  • Cleveland.com, 3.31.21 – Ohio bill legalizing sports betting expected soon (Full text included below)
    • Ohio could legalize betting on sports by this summer, three years after first taking up the issue, according to a top state lawmaker.
  • Gongwer News Service, 3.31.21 – Sports Gaming Talks Heat Up With Legislation On The Horizon (Full text included below)
    • As lawmakers on a Senate panel seek to wrap up their work by preparing to introduce legislation to legalize sports gambling, a pair of House members is also at work on that front.
  • Sports Handle, 3.31. 21 – Sports Betting Bill Expected To Be Introduced In Ohio By End Of April
    • Take a bow, Ohio Senate Select Committee on Gaming: Your work here is done, as after over two months of hearings, Wednesday’s midday affair marked the end of the back-and-forth from interested parties concerning the fate of sports betting in Ohio. Next up: The bill.

New York:

Kansas:

 

Cleveland.com

Ohio bill legalizing sports betting expected soon

March 31, 2021

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio could legalize betting on sports by this summer, three years after first taking up the issue, according to a top state lawmaker.

Sen. Kirk Schuring, a Canton Republican overseeing legalization efforts, in an interview said he plans to introduce a bill sometime in April, with an eye on passing something by the summer.

Schuring, the chair of a state Senate sports gaming panel that held its ninth and final hearing on Wednesday, was tight-lipped about what might be in the proposal.

“We are going to introduce a bill. How that’s going to look, I can’t tell you right now, but sometime in the next two weeks, we will introduce a bill,” Schuring said. “It will be referred to my committee, and we’ll see what happens to it there.”

To become law, any proposal would require approval from both the House and Senate, which are Republican-controlled, and Republican Gov. Mike DeWine’s signature.

Senate President Matt Huffman has said his goal is to roll sports gambling legislation into a state budget bill that must be passed by a June 30 state constitutional deadline. DeWine said earlier this month he views legalizing sports betting as “inevitable.” House Speaker Bob Cupp, who as a state lawmaker last year voted for a House legalization bill that died after the Senate failed to take it up, could look to the expansion of gambling to help fund a costly school-funding bill that’s his top legislative priority.

“Our governor said he wants to do something, our Senate president has said the same thing, and I think Speaker Cupp has said the same,” Schuring said. “As long as we have the tripartite agreeing to something, our chances are good something will happen.”

Ohio has been debating whether and how to legalize betting on sports since state senators introduced a bill in July 2018, the month after the U.S. Supreme Court in a landmark ruling said it was up to each state to regulate gambling. Other states were quick to legalize sports betting, which by now includes every state surrounding Ohio. Legalization proponents say by waiting, Ohio continues to lose revenue to neighboring states or the unregulated black market, like foreign-based betting websites.

But the legalization debate in Ohio bogged down over disagreement about how betting on sports would be regulated. A Senate bill, which never saw a vote, called for sports betting to be regulated by the Ohio Casino Control Commission, while the House bill that passed in May 2020 before later dying in the Senate tapped the Ohio Lottery Commission.

A complicating factor emerged last October, when Neil Clark, a prominent lobbyist charged in a federal investigation into a state nuclear bailout law who since has died, revealed that businessmen who turned out to be undercover FBI agents had hired him to influence sports betting legislation in what he came to believe was a sting operation.

Meanwhile, other gambling-related issues also have been caught in the legislative logjam for no clearly stated policy reasons. A 2019 proposal from the Ohio Lottery Commission to offer “iLottery” mobile lottery games has been gathering dust after state legislators blocked lottery officials’ attempts to award the contract to a Michigan company.

And a bill to allow fraternal organizations to offer ‘e-Bingo” slot machines stalled in the Senate after unanimously clearing the House in May. House members even tried in December to amend the e-bingo bill into an unrelated elections bill, which died during the lame-duck legislative session.

“So why did this bill become so contentious once during the last General Assembly?” State Rep. Jeff LaRe, a Fairfield County Republican who sponsored the e-Bingo bill, said during Wednesday testimony before the Senate gaming panel. “I think we all know that answer. A good friend of mine once told me that pigs eat, and hogs get slaughtered.”

LaRe declined to specify what he meant afterward, other than to say his bill got lost in the shuffle with other priorities.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a factor in Ohio’s deliberations over sports betting drawing out out for nearly three years, said Athens state Rep. Jay Edwards, who’s shepherding gambling issues for House Republicans

“On top of that, there’s a lot of interested parties,” he said. “Casinos and racinos want their say in this. The leagues, the professional sports franchises in Ohio, the bars and restaurants, the lottery, the casino commission, there’s a lot of people very interested in this, they’re very passionate about the issue, and they all have a right to be heard.”

Schuring’s Select Gaming Committee has been holding weekly hearings since Feb. 3, drawing testimony from officials representing professional sports teams, gaming companies and retailers. The debate over sports gambling has attracted powerful, deep-pocketed interests, with casinos pushing for control of the system, including rights to a limited number of “skins,” or gaming brands that they then could sub-let to other companies. Others, including bowling-alley operators and convenience store owners, have pushed for bets non sports to be allowed at kiosks in their businesses.

State universities meanwhile have pushed for lawmakers to exclude college sports from betting, saying it could corrupt the integrity of amateur sports.

Among those who have testified before the Senate gaming committee is Len Komoroski, CEO of the Cleveland Cavaliers, who said last week the team “welcomes the conversation of what a regulated sports betting market should look like in Ohio.”

Komoroski said the Cavs are pushing for aggregated, anonymous betting data to be shared with the leagues so they can recognize possible suspicious patterns. Leagues also have lobbied for Ohio gambling platforms to use official league data, which they can license for a fee, as well as to grant teams the rights to run an online, branded sports book.

“Every sports bet accepted by a gaming operator stems from the content created by all of Ohio’s professional teams,” Komoroski said. “The legislature should allow said teams to capitalize on the very event we’re putting on.”

Edwards said depending on negotiations, it’s possible the legislature could wrap sports betting, iLottery and eBingo into a sweeping gaming bill.

“My take on it is that it’s an opportunity, it’s going to happen, it kind of already is happening, and it could be a revenue stream for the state. I think the state should look at bringing this up, trying to bring in the biggest amount of revenue it could have and make the biggest availability for the most people,” he said.

 

Gongwer News Service

Sports Gaming Talks Heat Up With Legislation On The Horizon

March 31, 2021

As lawmakers on a Senate panel seek to wrap up their work by preparing to introduce legislation to legalize sports gambling, a pair of House members is also at work on that front.

Rep. Brigid Kelly (D-Cincinnati) and Rep. Jay Edwards (R-Nelsonville) were forced to postpone a virtual interested party meeting last week on the issue due to changes in the House’s schedule.

Rep. Kelly said in an interview they plan to reschedule the event.

“I think we’re trying to cast a wide net so that if folks want to come in and weigh in on things that they want to see or do not want to see we’d have the ability to listen to that,” she said.

Rep. Kelly, who sponsored sports gaming legislation (HB194, 133rd General Assembly) in the previous General Assembly that ultimately stalled, said she plans to act with a sense of urgency on the issue.

“We feel an imperative to move carefully but also quickly,” she said. “I think that our efforts in the last General Assembly laid a good foundation for us to be able to move it through in this General Assembly.”

Meanwhile, the Senate Select Committee on Gaming Trackis holding what is expected to be its final hearing Wednesday.

Chairman Rep. Sen. Kirk Schuring (R-Canton) said the next step will be to introduce a bill based on weeks’ worth of stakeholder feedback.

The bill could ultimately be inserted into the state’s two-year operating budget, according to Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima). (See Gongwer Ohio Report, January 22, 2021)

“From what it seems, I think we all have the same goal,” Rep. Kelly said of the Senate efforts.

The upper chamber panel has fielded testimony from, among others, grocery stores (See Gongwer Ohio Report, February 24, 2021) and professional sports teams (See Gongwer Ohio Report, March 10, 2021) looking to get in on the betting action, along with universities that have asked to be excluded. (See Gongwer Ohio Report, March 17, 2021)

Meanwhile, the Fair Gaming Coalition of Ohio is touting the support of Lima Mayor David Berger in its bid to make sports betting an Ohio Lottery Commission product. That would allow wagers to be placed through existing lottery vendors and profits would be directed to the state’s K-12 school system.

Casinos and racinos have pushed for near-exclusive control of the product.

“A few cities ended up with powerful magnets of economic activity, and the rest of us were left without,” the mayor said during a recent press conference of the monopoly casinos and racinos current have. “I do think that this issue, in the way it’s structured, has the potential to benefit communities all across the state, and I want to encourage people to engage in the discussion.”

Gov. Mike DeWine earlier this month acknowledged that sports gambling is already occurring in Ohio, just in the form of illegally activity, and called the legalization of the practice “inevitable.” (See Gongwer Ohio Report, March 3, 2021)

“The longer we wait, the longer it’s going to be that folks are legally able to bet on sports in Ohio,” Rep. Kelly said.

The panel was also tasked with exploring the issue of electronic bingo and heard from the sponsor of a bill to address the product that has been deemed illegal by the attorney general’s office.

Rep. Jeffrey LaRe (R-Canal Winchester) said his legislation (HB 65) will bring increased integrity to the state’s charitable gaming laws.

Horse Racing Industry Weighs In On Upcoming Sports Betting Bill

Legislation to legalize sports gambling will likely be introduced in the upper chamber in the next few weeks, according to the lawmaker spearheading the effort.

Sen. Kirk Schuring (R-Canton), who leads the Senate Select Committee on Gaming Track, said the measure will be based on feedback received over the course of nine hearings in which the panel received testimony from nearly 50 witnesses.

“It doesn’t mean we’re done,” he said, before adding he expects the legislation to be referred to the committee.

The panel on Wednesday fielded testimony from the Ohio Harness Horsemen’s Association, which offered numerous suggestions for the coming bill.

Executive Director Renee Mancino called for horse racing to be integrated into any sports wagering expansion on both revenue share and as an offering on mobile platforms.

Ms. Mancino also said legalized sports gambling should be viewed as an expansion of existing wagering on sports in Ohio and contended the state’s constitution limits the expansion of lottery and casino gaming.

“The Ohio Constitution does not grant the authority to expand the definition of casino gaming to include sports wagering absent a constitutional amendment,” she said. “The Ohio Constitution does not grant the authority to expand gaming in any form and permit operation at veteran and fraternal organizations, bowling alleys, or other entities. Those entities are limited to charitable bingo.”

Dave Basler, executive director of the Ohio Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association echoed those sentiments, saying legalized sports gaming will dilute the wagering market.

“It will unquestionably hurt horse racing,” he added.

The panel also received written testimony on the issue from representatives of the Benevolent and Protective Association, the National Council on Problem Gaming, GeoComply, Conscious Gaming, NASCAR and Miami University.

He lamented that bills (HB282 & SB345, 133rd General Assembly) stalled in the previous legislative session.

“So why did this bill become so contentious during the last General Assembly?” he asked. “I think we all know that answer. A good friend of mine once told me that pigs eat, and hogs get slaughtered. That should hold true in this matter. We cannot let the greed of a few deny the sustainability of our veteran and fraternal organizations, who in turn support all of our communities.”

Mary Magnuson, vice president of government affairs at Arrow International, said electronic instant bingo is a natural extension of the paper version of the game.

She went on to say that HB65 “provides a strong starting point” for any legislation developed by the panel.

However, she also called for legislation to include a robust licensing program, a centralized server and real time access established by rule through the attorney general’s office.

“This will allow the attorney general to evaluate and take into consideration the requirements of other states so that manufacturers of electronic instant bingo systems are not required to engineer a special ‘real time’ requirement for Ohio,” she said.