A year-long plan to launch Ohio sports betting is moving forward, but if you’re wondering why it’s going to take so long since it’s already been approved by the governor and state legislature, an update was given by Jessica Franks, director of communications for the Ohio Casino Control Commission (OCCC).
Franks said the commission last week “released the second batch of draft rules, which involve general licensing requirements, type A and B proprietor licensing, mobile services provider licensing, other wagering, provisions and equipment.”
She said other rules will be released in batches over the coming months.
The key thing to remember is that this is government and there’s a process. And that process tends to be Byzantine and bureaucratic. Ohio’s process goes like this: After the commission’s February meeting, in which it’s likely to approve its rules, the statutory filing process will begin.
The first step on that process is that the rules will be forwarded to Ohio’s Common Sense Initiative (actual name, the poorly-initialed CSI for short) and they get to apply common sense to the rules, in an informal manner, for about two weeks. The rules then go back to the commission for a two-week re-write, and then these new and improved rules must be approved by the commission.
They’re then sent back to CSI for filing and two more weeks of more formal scrutiny and comment, followed by one to two months, but no actual deadline, of additional review. Next up is the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review (JCARR) who get their own two months to review the CSI-reviewed rules. The OCCC then has to approve the twice-reviewed rules, there’s a short waiting period, and then four to six months for the rules to become active.
A Lot of Approvals Needed
The rules have to get the okay from CSI, JCARR and OCCC before applications can be accepted, so Franks said the commission expects to start taking applications in the summer and fall, and still have everything up and running on or before Jan. 1, 2023.
What happens if that deadline is missed?
“The law requires it to start no later than January 1st,” Franks said.
The sports betting law also requires there to be a universal start date for both brick-and-mortar and online betting. It doesn’t matter who or what is approved first. Everything will start the same day, except perhaps kiosk betting, which may start later. That’s not being overseen by the OCCC, but by the Ohio Lottery Commission.
Politics Should Not Be In Play
If you’re curious how one becomes a commissioner of Ohio Casino Control and whether this entire process will get bogged down with partisan politics, it shouldn’t.
“Commissioners are appointed by the governor with the advice and consent of the state Senate,” Franks said. “We are a bipartisan commission — no more than three members can be from the same political party. Also, at least one commissioner needs to be an accountant, one needs to have a background in law enforcement and at least one has to reside in a county with where a casino is located.”
Given the enthusiasm for sports betting as a potential revenue stream, all the various Ohio state acronyms are on board to get the rules approved, vendors greenlit and mobile apps functioning by the end of December, because only those bent on tanking the bill have an interest in stalling.
A launch after Jan. 1, 2023, would be in violation of the law and doesn’t seem to be an option anyone wants to contemplate.