Ohio Senator Proposes Slashing Sports Betting Tax to Boost Industry

In a move aimed at revitalizing Ohio’s sports betting industry, State Senator Niraj Antani, a Miamisburg Republican eyeing a congressional run, has recently introduced legislation to significantly reduce the state tax imposed on sports betting operators. 

Senator Antani’s Bill 190 Ignites Controversy Over Ohio’s Sports Betting Revenue

The original tax rate on sports betting operators in Ohio was 10% when the state’s sports betting program kicked off on January 1 of this year. However, during the summer, lawmakers opted to double the tax rate through the state budget, a decision now being challenged by Senator Antani’s proposed legislation, reported Cleveland.com.

Gov. Mike DeWine, a Republican, had advocated for the tax hike, expressing concerns over what he deemed as excessive advertising by operators. He highlighted instances of regulatory fines levied against major players such as DraftKings and Barstool Sportsbook for violations, including mailing advertisements to individuals below the legal betting age and hosting events that ran afoul of advertising rules.

Since the introduction of the increased tax, Ohioans have wagered an impressive $5.2 billion on sports, with $4.5 billion returned as winnings. The tax hike has also prompted a cultural shift, with professional and collegiate leagues, as well as sports media, increasingly embracing legal sports betting.

Critics Sound Alarm as Ohio Weighs Impact of Senate Bill 190

The financial implications of Senate Bill 190 remain uncertain, with the Legislative Service Commission yet to provide a revenue estimate. However, the proposed tax cut raises questions about potential impacts on the state’s revenue, as Ohio has already collected nearly $102 million in tax revenue from sportsbooks between January and October.

Senator Antani criticized the decision to raise the sports betting tax through the budget, arguing that it negatively influences the emerging market. He contended that the increased tax not only affects sportsbooks but also trickles down to bettors through less favorable odds and fewer promotional offers.

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Antani, however, was not the only critic. Other proponents argued that the higher tax may deter operators, making Ohio less attractive to the sports lg777 betting industry. Critics, including former Ohio Rep. Dann Dodd and Americans for Tax Reform, warned that the measure could drive existing brands out of the market, potentially leading to significant economic consequences for Ohio. 

As of March 2023, 29 states in the US have legalized sports betting, with tax rates generally falling between 10% and 15%. However, there is considerable variation, ranging from a low of 6.75% in Iowa to a high of 51% in Rhode Island, highlighting the ongoing debate over the optimal tax rate to balance industry growth and government revenue.