Will Sports Betting Come To Ohio? It's Up To The Legislature

May 15, 2018

After the United State Supreme Court cleared the way for sports betting, the rush to capitalize on the industry is on.

Eric Schippers of Penn National Gaming, which owns the Hollywood Casino in Columbus, says Ohio's path forward will be determined by Ohio's legislators.

"It really is going to come down to the Ohio Legislature, whether they want to take up the mantle, take up the opportunity, and other states have," he says.

States like West Virginia and Pennsylvania have already passed legislation allowing for this type of betting before the Supreme Court decision came down on Monday. The center for gaming research at the University of Nevada lists Ohio as a state likely to offer sports betting within two years.

Schippers says that if legislators decide in the affirmative, it would mean a new source of income for the state and for the industry. But, he says that number is lower than some might think.

"Really, this is a low margin business. It's about a 5 percent margin," he says. "And so it's not a ton of money in terms of new revenues, but it's a nice added amenity at existing casinos."

Still, PNG offers sports betting at its existing Las Vegas casino, and Schippers says it's worked out for the group.

"Our sports betting operations there have been very successful in driving additional visitation to our properties," he says. "We'd love to see that at our regional facilities, such as the four facilities we have in Ohio."

Ohio voters approved casinos in 2008, and the Hollywood Casino opened in 2012. Advocates claimed that gambling in casinos and race tracks would bring about $1.4 billion in annual revenue, but the real number has been closer to $800 million.