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What is right for Ohio with sports bets

“Ohio is at the cusp of catching up with its neighbors by legalizing sports wagering and providing them with a regulated and safe alternative that will move them away from the black market,” said Rick Limardo, vice president of government affairs for MGM Resorts in recent testimony to the Ohio Senate Select Committee on Gaming.

Limardo is probably right, but he is one voice among many representing groups who would like to control legal sports betting in Ohio, which means lawmakers will have to strengthen their intestinal fortitude and do what is right for Ohioans –including small businesses — instead of being tossed around at the whim of whichever lobbyists have their ear at the moment.

Casinos, racinos, our professional sports teams … the state itself — there are plenty of pieces into which this pie can be cut, and lawmakers will need to make sure there is some left over for the little guys. Millions of dollars are at stake.

“We can’t let local homegrown businesses once again get shut out by greedy casino and racinos owners,” another media outlet reported David Corey, executive vice president of the Bowling Centers Association of Ohio as saying.

Buckeye State residents have witnessed first hand how popular (and lucrative) sports betting is in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Indiana and Michigan. For that matter, anyone who has stumbled upon the cable networks dedicated exclusively to sports betting and data can get some idea of how much money could be spent in Ohio.

Lawmakers will have to do their own homework and go with what is right for Ohio and Ohioans, rather than what best suits the lobbyists hoping to influence them. A few of them may be a bit out of practice on that front, but it can be done. We’d bet on it.

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