Ohio could allow as many as 40 total online and retail sportsbooks if preliminary sports betting legislation introduced last week passes into law.

The long-awaited initial bill would permit up to 20 statewide mobile licenses and 20 retail licenses. As drafted currently, it would also create the nation’s first set-price, lottery-run sports betting pool market.

The wide-ranging bill will likely see extensive changes, beginning with a stakeholder hearing later this week.

Ohio has considered sports betting legislation for several years, including an unsuccessful 2020 push that passed the House of Representatives but fell in the Senate. Backers hope the latest sports betting proposal will assuage policymakers’ oversight, license allocation and other regulatory concerns.

“Gaming is already here but not legally,” said Sen. Kirk Schuring, one of the bill’s sponsors, in a press release last week. “My priority is to make sure this bill focuses on broad-based economic development, that provides no special privileges for any gaming business or organization. This is free market driven, and comes with oversight from existing Ohio agencies with gaming experience to make sure Ohioans are not being taken advantage of by illegal gaming.”

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