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Could sports betting kiosks make bars a “stealing target”?


CINCINNATI — The Ohio Lottery Commission is getting some pushback on payment rules it established for bars and restaurants that want to set up sports betting kiosks when Ohio launches its new form of gambling on January 1, 2023.

At issue is a requirement that “prizes will be paid in cash from the host’s proceeds from its sports game sales.” Critics say it will force business owners to hold on to dangerous levels of cash to pay out winning bets.

“We’ll find out who has those licenses, who is able to make sports bets,” said Chris Ferruso, Ohio legislative director for the National Federation of Independent Businesses. “If they’re sitting on tens of thousands of dollars in cash, they’re the target of a robbery.”

Ferruso said many of his members were worried about the rule. He thinks it should be revised to allow any lottery retailer to cash out winning bets – not just the bar where the bet was made. This would spread the risk among thousands of lottery retailers.

“I think that was the spirit and the intent of the legislature,” Ferruso said. “I understand that the intention was to allow this to happen, so that people who were not eligible to have a Type C license could still participate in the process. Many people who buy lottery tickets today at an establishment do not necessarily return to that same establishment to cash in on that ticket.

Ohio lawmakers allowed three types of sports betting last December, including kiosk betting jointly regulated by the Ohio Lottery and Casino Control Commission. Lottery officials have pre-licensed more than 1,000 Ohio businesses to host sports betting kiosks with a Type C license. The Casino Control Board has received applications from seven companies wishing to become betting owners sportsmen. Their software would process actual bets and validate winners with a credit voucher that could be redeemed for cash.

Lottery spokeswoman Danielle Frizzi-Babb said the payout rule is based on wording in the Sports Betting Act, which allows bettors to receive payouts “in cash at any host type-C sports games”. But lottery officials are working through the state regulatory process to determine if revisions are needed.

“For security reasons, the rule specifies that cash payments at a host must be $600 or less, similar to current practices with traditional lottery prizes,” Frizzi-Babb said. “However, it should be noted that this is not a mandatory requirement and hosts may choose to limit the amount of prizes they are willing to cash out.”

Ohio’s Joint Committee on Agency Rules Review, or JCARR, has a meeting Aug. 17 where the rules are likely to be discussed. Ahead of that meeting, Rep. Bill Seitz, R-Green Township, urged Lottery Director Pat McDonald in a July 13 email to “consider withdrawing the proposed rules and replacing them with advanced proposals.” by the relevant stakeholders”. He also suggested that JCARR might be forced to strike down the lottery rule and delay the launch of Ohio’s sports betting industry.

In a separate email to WCPO, Seitz said he didn’t think a delay was likely. Lottery officials and the Casino Control Commission said the launch date remains January 1. But Seitz continues to push for a change in the rules on payments.

“The legislation we passed provided that winning ticket holders could bring their winning ticket to any authorized lottery retailer for cashing,” Seitz wrote. “This has been of some help to lottery retailers as they earn a small commission when cashing in a winning ticket.”