Good news, Ohio sports bettors: Legal sports betting could be coming to your state sooner than you think.
On Wednesday, the Ohio House Finance and Appropriations Committee passed H.B. 194, a bill that would legalize sports betting within the state. It will now go to the full House for a vote. If the House approves the bill, which is expected to happen, it would then go to the Senate. The Ohio House and Senate both want to legalize betting but have differing opinions on which entity should regulate the industry. The House wants to put the Ohio Lottery Commission in charge while the Senate prefers the Ohio Casino Control Commission. Gov. Mike DeWine is a big proponent of legalized betting and supports the latter.
The two chambers are now expected to engage in negotiations with the hope of having a bill on Gov. DeWine's desk by the fall, just in time for football season. Luckily for sports bettors, both bills call for mobile betting, which is the fastest growing and most popular and convenient way to bet.
Following the 2018 Supreme Court decision to overturn federal ban on sports betting known as PASPA, 22 states plus Washington D.C. have legalized sports betting. Ohio is poised to be the next big domino to fall. The Buckeye State is home to a plethora of professional and college sports teams, plus millions of die-hard fans and bettors. Ohio is a massive untapped market and the 7th-most populous state in the country with nearly 12 million citizens.
Speaking of Ohio, what can bettors expect from their beloved Browns in 2020?
After a promising 2018 in which rookie Baker Mayfield led Cleveland to a respectable 7-8-1 record, the Browns regressed last season and finished 6-10. Mayfield was a big reason for the downturn, going from 27 touchdowns, 14 interceptions and a 93.7 QB rating in Year 1 to 22 touchdowns, 21 interceptions and a 78.8 QB rating in Year 2.
This offseason the Browns made several big splashes, spending big money on tackle Jack Conklin and tight end Austin Hooper. Cleveland further solidified its offensive line by drafting Alabama tackle Jedrick Wills at 10th overall. The Browns also welcome in yet another new head coach, former Vikings offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski.
Cleveland seems to have improved this offseason but the oddsmakers aren't completely sold.
The Browns' 2020 win total is set at 8.5 across the market, which would be an improvement over their 6-10 campaign last season. However, all juice liability is on the under 8.5. At both Circa Sports and FanDuel, the under 8.5 is -120 (the over + 100). DraftKings is hanging under 8.5 at -121 (over + 100). And PointsBet is more of the same (under 8.5 at -115, over -105).
Reading between the lines, the oddsmakers are forcing bettors to pay a more expensive price on the under because that's the side taking in smart money. In other words, books have liability on Cleveland going 8-8 or worse this season.
One saving grace for the Browns: They have the 4th-easiest schedule this season. Their 2020 opponents went a combined 118-138 (.461) in 2019. Only the Ravens (.438), Steelers (.457) and and Cowboys (.459) have an easier schedule.
Here's the full Browns schedule in 2020
Week 1: at Ravens
Week 2: vs Bengals
Week 3: vs Redskins
Week 4: at Cowboys
Week 5: vs Colts
Week 6: at Steelers
Week 7: at Bengals
Week 8: vs Raiders
Week 9: Bye
Week 10: vs Texans
Week 11: vs Eagles
Week 12: at Jags
Week 13: at Titans
Week 14: vs Ravens
Week 15: at Giants
Week 16: at Jets
Week 17: vs Steelers
Cleveland's playoff odds are basically a coin flip with a slight edge on the "No." The Browns are + 137 to make the postseason at DraftKings and -167 to miss the postseason.
In terms of the division, the Browns are + 600 to win the AFC North. The Ravens are the favorite at -225 followed by the Steelers at + 350. The Bengals are a distant fourth at + 2000.
Cleveland is + 1800 to win the AFC and + 4000 to win the Super Bowl.
Some player props to monitor: Mayfield's over/under passing yards is set at 3,800.5 and his passing touchdowns 24.5. Last year he threw for 3,827 yards and 22 touchdowns.
Nick Chubb's over/under rushing yards is set at 1,300.5. Chubb ran for 1,494 yards last season, second only to Derrick Henry (1,540).
Odell Beckham's over/under receiving yards is set at 1,050.5. He finished with 1,035 receiving yards in 2019.