Ohio Approves First Mobile Sports Betting Operators; Bengals, Guardians Among the Partners

Ohio gaming regulators today approved the first of 25 mobile sportsbook operators vying for a spot in the state’s sports betting market when it launches on Jan. 1. 

The five sportsbooks – PointsBet, Caesars, Betfred, bet365, and SuperBook – are the first mobile sportsbooks to be approved ahead of Ohio sports betting‘s universal start date on New Year’s Day. It is uncertain how many more operators, or service providers, will be approved before launch.

Sportsbooks had until today to file required holding forms with the Ohio Casino Control Commission, or OCCC, in order to be considered for launch on Jan. 1.  No mention was made of forthcoming sportsbook approvals by the OCCC before it acted on the five mobile sportsbook applications at its meeting today. 

Without naming specific companies, OCCC Executive Director Matt Schuler took a few minutes at the meeting to scold applicants who he said are pressuring staff to act on incomplete applications. He advised applicants to take a different tack in the future.

Schuler said he has advised staff to send applicants that demand to be on a future agenda for approval to his cell phone, “so I can teach them to not act like petulant children.” 

“There’s an American proverb that says the squeaky wheel gets the oil,” he said. “(I say) for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.” 

What’s Ahead For Mobile and Retail in Ohio

The five sportsbooks are partnered with professional sports franchises and physical locations (proprietors) that will operate mobile sportsbooks under licenses approved by the OCCC last month.  Here’s the list of the approved partnerships:

Ohio Sports Betting Licensees & Partnerships

Sportsbook OperatorPartner
PointsBetHollywood Gaming at Mahoning Valley (Youngstown) 
CaesarsScioto Downs (racino in Columbus) 
BetfredCincinnati Bengals
Bet365Cleveland Guardians Baseball
SuperBookFC Cincinnati 

Caesars and SuperBook were also approved as retail sportsbooks in Ohio, bringing the total number of approved retail service providers to date to three, according to information from the OCCC. 

The OCCC today also approved an additional 37 sports betting kiosks that will be located at bars, restaurants, grocery stores, gas stations, and other retailers statewide. That brings the total number of approved kiosk hosts statewide to 848. 

However, the state has yet to approve any of the seven applicants who would provide and service the kiosks. Those companies, including Intralot and Gold Rush Amusements, were not on today’s OCCC agenda. 

Missing required deadlines ahead of Jan. 1 will not prevent sportsbooks, operators, facilities, or suppliers from eventually being approved for sports betting licensing in Ohio, state gaming officials say. But it will keep them from launching on the universal start date. 

The next deadline ahead of Jan. 1 is Nov. 2. By that day, all mobile and retail proprietors must have submitted their responsible gaming plans, geolocation plans, test lab reports for their sports betting servers and other equipment, house rules, and facility plans. 

OCCC staff said they expect to review and approve that information quickly. 

About the Author
Rebecca Hanchett

Rebecca Hanchett

Legislative Writer
Based in Kentucky's Bluegrass region, Rebecca Hanchett is a political writer who covers legislative developments at Gaming Today. She worked as a public affairs specialist for 23 years at the Kentucky State Capitol. A University of Kentucky grad, Hanchett has been known to watch UK. basketball from time to time.

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