In the first 48 hours that sports betting was open for business in Ohio, 11.3 million geolocation transactions were recorded. That figure was the highest of any state in the country for Jan. 1-2, marking a successful launch of legal sports wagering for the Buckeye State.
Among the top populated cities in Ohio, Cincinnati recorded the most transactions in the first two days, according to data released by GeoComply. Bettors located in Cincinnati performed more than 1.8 million transactions, more than Columbus and Cleveland combined.
The city of Columbus, despite being the most populous in the state, had 800,000 fewer geolocation transactions than Cincinnati on Jan. 1-2, according to GeoComply. The company provides identification services and fraud detection for gaming operators around the country.
Ohio debuted sports betting for both mobile and retail sportsbooks as the calendar turned to 2023, completing a process that took more than a year of planning and preparation. The state is expected to be one of the largest sports wagering markets in the country, which now has more than 30 states with sports betting laws in place.
In the first two days of January, Ohio’s 11.3 million geolocation transactions were more than the total for its neighbors to the east (Pennsylvania with 8.2 million) and west (Indiana with 2.4 million).
Top Ohio Cities Based on Sports Betting Transactions, Jan. 1-2
Here is how cities in Ohio ranked in terms of number of transactions recorded during the first two days of legal sports betting in the state:
As he did for the Reds so many times in his career, Pete Rose led the way, as he placed the first wager at Hard Rock Casino in Cincinnati in the early morning hours of New Year’s Day. The Cincinnati native and all-time Major League Baseball hit leader bet on the Reds to win the 2023 World Series.
Sports fans in Columbus may have been dejected when sports betting launched a few seconds after midnight on Sunday. Only moments earlier, the Ohio State Buckeyes missed a field goal that would have won their College Football Playoff semifinal game against Georgia. An upset victory by the Buckeyes would have assured a huge first week of betting in the state leading up to the CFP title game.
Tax Revenue Earmarked for Veterans, Education Funding
According to Ohio laws, much of the tax revenue received from sports betting operators will be used to fund programs for education and veterans assistance. Some portion will also be set aside for problem gambling resources.
The Ohio Casino Control Commission has projected that the sports betting market in the state could reach as high as $1.1 billion in year one and $3.1 billion in 2024, generating tax revenue of $74 and $243 million, respectively, in addition to licensing fees. Independent estimates are much higher.
In spite of the optimistic data being revealed by GeoComply and the enthusiasm from bettors in Ohio, there have been a few hiccups. Governor Mike DeWine, who put his signature on the bill making sports betting legal in the state, has indicated that a few operators are not adhering to guidelines when it comes to marketing.
“The companies that are doing the massive advertising need to be aware that they are being looked at very closely by the governor and the Casino Control Commission in regard to statements that they are making,” DeWine said during a Jan. 3 press conference for an unrelated matter. Leading up to the Jan. 1 launch, regulators were forced to issue warnings to some sportsbooks for the way those companies were conducting promotions and advertising in Ohio, sources told ABC 6 News in Columbus.
DeWine shared that he was concerned that young people were being targeted by advertising, a strict violation of state rules.
“One company directly was targeting a large number of young people,” the governor told ABC 6 News, “That’s a line. That’s a pretty clear line that they cannot cross.”
Ohio law states that customers must be 21 years of age to wager on sports, and restricts sportsbooks from advertising specifically to consumers under that age. The OCCC also prohibits operators from advertising or marketing on the campus of colleges or universities. In November, Barstool Sports was called out for hosting a podcast/radio show on the campus of Bowling Green University, during which its hosts mentioned the Barstool betting app. Barstool’s parent company faces possible fines for the alleged violation.