Introducing the Ohio Bar Owners Association; Sports Betting and Simplified Liquor Options on the Way

 The leadership and staff of the Ohio Licensed Beverage Association are excited to announce that we have officially changed our name to the Ohio Bar Owners Association.

 Over the last 80 years, bar owners have turned to the OLBA to find out what the latest developments meant for their businesses and we will continue that strong tradition and level of service as the Ohio Bar Owners Association.

 Over the decades, the association has been the premiere voice for bar owners in Ohio—we thought it was time for our name to reflect who we fight for every day.  Along with the change, we will also be hosting the Ohio Bar Owners Expo—our statewide trade show formerly known as the Buckeye Bar Expo.

Over the years, the association has fought against excise tax increases at the state and local level, worked to pass the original Sunday Sales law, worked to pass single site election laws, worked to expand Sundays Sales ballot access and expand Sunday hours, fought for bar owners to be included in the new sports gaming law, fought for cocktails to go, and worked with the legislature to end the closures and curfews.  We continue to push to vacate curfew and health violations associated with the COVID lockdown as well.  The Ohio Bar Owners Association is the same leadership team, staff and membership; and we will continue to fight for bar owners large and small in every county of Ohio.

 We will also continue to find opportunities to save bar owners money.  Our partnership with Illinois Casualty Company provides members with 10 percent off property and casualty and liquor liability insurance.  In addition to this great membership perk, we will also be unveiling new benefits throughout the year.  We are creating a process to help our members take advantage of the new sports gaming opportunity, and we are creating an easy to follow guide for bar owners to run their own Sunday option campaigns saving members thousands of dollars in consulting fees while adding another day of business.  Membership in the Ohio Bar Owners Association is the smart and obvious choice. 


 After years of negotiations, which began with no path for bar owners to participate in sports gaming, legislators passed a law that will allow a structured game to be available through the Lottery Commission.

 In the face of massive opposition from casinos and pro sports teams, the Ohio Licensed Beverage Association was able to secure victory for bar owners in the final negotiations of HB29, the sports gaming bill.  The bill creates a path for sports gaming to begin in Ohio on January 1, 2023.  Throughout the year, the Casino Control Commission will work out specific rules, and will work with the Ohio Lottery Commission to secure vendors to provide kiosks at retail locations to accept sports bets.  There is a lot of work to be done in the next year, but the path is laid out in the law, which was signed by Governor DeWine on December 22. It will go into effect no later than December 31, 2022.

 The new bill creates tiered permits.  Type A licenses will be created for mobile apps or “skins”, type B licenses will be available for on-premise sports books such as casinos, type C licenses will be available for companies that would like to partner with the lottery commission and offer kiosks to the final group which is type C hosts.  A type C host is a liquor establishment with a D-1, D-2 or D-5 liquor permit.  The Ohio Bar Owners Association will continue to work over the next year to clarify that the D-5 includes the variety of D-5 permits such as the D-5i and D-5j permits among others.  The intent of the bill is to allow sports gaming in on-premise accounts, but not in off-premise accounts.

 Type C platforms are limited to spread bets, money line bets, over-under bets and parlay bets limited to four parlay bets at a time.  Other restrictions include those already in place for keno games.  A player can only bet up to $700 per week on a machine, and bar owners may pay out up to their current lottery limits. 

 In the final minutes of negotiations, the Ohio Bar Owners Association presented a series of small changes, which were all accepted.  They included allowing sports betting to be conducted on both self-service machines and clerk-based machines because both types of machines are prominent in retail establishments.  We successfully argued against requiring background checks for bartenders because of the low dollar thresholds, lottery clerk training and the controls already in place by the Lottery Commission.   We also pushed for clarification that the kiosk could be owned by the state.  This change allows bar owners to make the call—they can either offer sports gaming on the their current Ohio Lottery kiosk, or they can choose to host another approved type C license holder machine.  Legislators were clear that they did not want to create a monopoly for one vendor, and their actions will provide options for bar owners who will be sought after by multiple vendors.

 Our leadership and staff are very happy with the outcome of HB29 and will continue to track the Casino Commission process, the Lottery Commission process and the type C host application process.  We are putting together an infrastructure to guide retailers through the process and we hope to offer this guidance at no cost to our members.  We will continue to update our members each step of the way through our weekly updates and at the 2022 Ohio Bar Owners Expo, which will be announced soon. 

 Because of the inclusion of bar owners, the newly passed Ohio law is being touted as a national model, but more importantly, it will help Ohio bar owners keep customers longer and spending more money on food and drinks.  It will help businesses regain lost revenues from the 2,000 hour shut down with a hand up instead of a hand out.  House Speaker Bob Cupp, Senate President Matt Huffman, Representative Jay Edwards, Representative Bill Seitz, Representative Adam Miller, Senator Kirk Schuring, Senator Nathan Manning and Senator Cecil Thomas all deserve our appreciation and gratitude because they delivered a big win for small business.

 Another bill that was signed by the Governor late last year and goes into effect on March 22, 2022 is SB102, which made two key changes to Sunday sales.  The first change lowers the threshold for signatures to get on the ballot.  Currently, a bar is required to gather signatures equaling 35% of the votes cast in a precinct in the last gubernatorial election.  In populous precincts, that could equate to hundreds of signatures causing bar owners to hire consultants to circulate petitions and run the election.  In reality, local option elections pass more than 85% of the time, so the issue has never been convincing voters that a business in the neighborhood should be allowed to open on Sunday.  The issue has always been the expense involved in getting the question on the ballot due to the high threshold of signatures required.  SB102 will make it possible for bar owners to put their Sunday issue on the ballot and run their campaign themselves saving thousands of dollars on consultant’s fees.  We are developing a step-by-step guide for bar owners to run their own election, and it will be free for members.

 SB102 also expands Sunday hours.  Today Sunday sales for beer begins at 5:30 am, wine and spirituous liquor begins at either 10:00 am or 11:00 am, depending on which question was authorized by the voters.  Sunday sales end at 12:30 am.  Under SB102 all Sunday hours for all products will begin at 5:30 am and end at 2:30 am, just like every other day of the week.

 To get regular updates regarding sports gaming, Sunday hours and other industry developments, join the Ohio Bar Owners Association at olba.org 

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