Supreme Court ruling clears the way to legalize sports betting in Ohio

CLEVELAND - From March Madness to the Cleveland Browns to our championship Cleveland Cavaliers, betting on a big game could soon be reality.

The Supreme Court cleared the way Monday morning for states to legalize sports betting, striking down a 1992 federal law that had prohibited most states from authorizing sports betting.

"Nationwide, there's about 7-million people suffering with gambling disorder," says Mike Buzzelli, Gambling Services Coordinator with Recovery Resources in Cleveland.

The ruling  is a victory for many states, which had considered allowing sports gambling as a way to encourage tourism and tax revenue. But Buzzelli says the ruling isn’t necessarily good or bad, since illegal sports gambling has been in play for decades.

Buzzelli said, "The American Gaming Association estimates about $150-billion is wagered annually illegally,  so that tells us two things. It tell us that people are already sports gambling. It also tells us there's a lot of lost tax revenue."

Ohio voters approved casino gambling in Cleveland, Cincinnati, Columbus and Toledo in 2009.

JACK Entertaiment Chief Executive Office Matt Cullen had this to say about the ruling:

“Under the proper regulatory framework, we support the State of Ohio moving forward with sports betting at brick and mortar facilities. However, the detailed state regulations that will be written in response to the Supreme Court’s decision will determine the safety and viability of this potential amenity. Certainly there is significant guest interest in sports betting being available at our facilities.”

Any amendments to the law would have to be made by state lawmakers, according to Senator Bill Coley, Chairman of the Government Oversight and Reform Committee which oversees gaming bill proposals.

Sen. Coley says, "They did not include sports betting in their constitutional amendment, so it's not authorized under that and nor is it clearly authorized under the lottery commission so anything that happens in this area would be done by a statute in the general assembly and the governor's office."

As for a new law possibly making gambling addiction worse in the state, Buzzelli said, "The concern is for those individuals that are already doing it illegally - are they gonna do it more often, and with higher amounts - and then really starting to have some consequences."