Sportsbooks Scramble to Make Jan. 1 Ohio Sports Betting Launch

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Ohio sports betting might be short a few mobile and retail sportsbooks when the Buckeye State goes live on Jan. 1. 

Ohio Casino Control Commission (OCCC) Director of Communications Jessica Franks told Gaming Today in a phone call Tuesday that companies hoping to launch on the state’s Jan. 1 universal start date are required to turn in documentation on their company ownership and holdings. “A number” of license applicants have yet to provide that information to the state, she said.

If the OCCC doesn’t get that information by Oct. 5, those companies won’t be allowed to launch on Jan. 1. 

Franks did say it is possible for companies to launch later if the Jan. 1 target if missed.

“They have known about this requirement basically since the law passed, and they have known about it since the applications were made available to them. So we cannot issue licenses if we do not have the information regarding who has control of the applicant,” she told Gaming Today

ohio sports betting launch
Some sportsbooks are scrambling like Bengals QB Joe Burrow to ready themselves for Ohio’s sports betting launch date (AP Photo/Steve Luciano)

Franks didn’t specify which companies have been slow to return their holding company forms and related information, but they could represent nearly any license type. Applicants for mobile, retail, and kiosk proprietor (owner) licenses, service provider (sportsbook) licenses, and suppliers licenses are all required to submit a holding company form under Ohio law. 

Mobile and Retail Sportsbooks Still Waiting For Approval

To date, none of the 25 mobile sportsbooks that have submitted applications to operate in Ohio has been approved for a license. Caesars, BetMGM, PointsBet, DraftKings, FanDuel, Fanatics, Barstool, bet365, and Betfred are all on the list. 

Retail sportsbooks (not including separately-licensed sports betting kiosks) applying for a license are also lagging in approval. Of 21 applicants for a retail service provider license, only one – betJack, partnered with JACK Thistledown Racino near Cleveland – has been conditionally approved to date. 

It is not clear whether a lack of documentation is the reason for the hold-up in approval.

Mobile and Retail Sports Betting License Owners Forge Ahead

Considerably more progress has been made with licensing of mobile and retail sports betting license owners, or “proprietors,” under Ohio law.

Franks said the state has conditionally approved 18 mobile proprietors and 17 retail proprietors, with a total of 25 mobile proprietor licenses (Type A licenses) and 40 retail proprietor licenses (Type B licenses) allowed by law. The sports betting license owners are sports stadiums, casinos, racetracks, golf clubs, and other businesses that have partnered with retail and mobile sportsbooks ahead of Jan. 1.

Companies approved so far for a mobile license and their prospective sportsbook partners:  

  • JACK Cleveland Casino (PlayUp Interactive and MaximBet)
  • JACK Thistledown Racino (WynnBet)
  • Cincinnati Bengals (Betfred Sports)
  • MGM Northfield Park (BetMGM) 
  • Scioto Downs (Caesars)
  • Cleveland Browns (Bally’s)
  • Columbus Blue Jackets (Fanatics and Prophet Exchange)
  • Crew SC (Tipico Ohio)
  • Muirfield Village Golf Club (Parx Interactive)
  • Cincinnati Reds (Underdog Sports Wagering)
  • Cavaliers (Fubo)
  • Hollywood Casino Columbus (Barstool) 
  • Cleveland Guardians (bet365)
  • Hollywood Dayton Raceway (BetRivers)
  • Belterra Park (FanDuel and Digital Gaming Corp.)
  • Hollywood Casino Toledo (DraftKings)
  • Hollywood Gaming at Mahoning Valley – (PointsBet)
  • FC Cincinnati – (SuperBook) 

Many of these mobile licensees will also hold retail licenses.

Because these licensees will rely on sportsbook partnerships to launch, sportsbook compliance with OCCC requirements remains key to making the Jan. 1 start date.

Sports Betting Kiosks Also Hit A Few Snags

Sports betting kiosks could also run into some launch delays. 

Any business recommended for a license by the Ohio Lottery that has a liquor license, is a lottery retailer, and is a for-profit entity can qualify for a kiosk host license under Ohio law, said Franks. The OCCC has conditionally approved 811 kiosk host licenses so far, including about three dozen to the Kroger supermarket chain alone.  

However, none of the host businesses will be able to take bets on Jan. 1 unless companies that will operate and service the kiosks — aka “Type C sports gaming proprietors” — are licensed. 

So far, none of the seven companies that have applied for that job has been approved by the OCCC.

Additionally, only four sports betting suppliers have been approved by the OCCC to date. Those are companies that provide critical services to sportsbook operators, including betting equipment and geofencing technology that keeps betting legal and secure. 

Like other sports betting hopefuls in Ohio, kiosk operators and sports betting suppliers that might be lagging on filing required documents still have some time to get in their paperwork.

Also read: Columbus, Cincinnati Top Ohio Cities for Sports Betting Kiosks

What’s Ahead For Ohio Sports Betting?

In addition to the Oct. 5 deadline, Franks said there is a Nov. 2 deadline for applicants to submit all “compliance documents,” including betting procedures, house rules, responsible gambling plans, security insurance, geolocation, and other requirements.

All betting equipment must comply by Dec. 2 for a licensee to launch by Jan.1, she said. 

Right now, however, the OCCC is focused on Oct. 5. 

“We’ll continue to issue licenses on a rolling basis, and then we will also continue working with those entities to make sure their compliance documents are submitted and approved. Those are probably the two big things we’ll be working on through the end of the year,” said Franks.

Ohio sports betting is expected to be a successful revenue stream for the Buckeye State and license holders once the market is up and running.

“I think the fiscal note from our (state) Legislative Service Commission assumes about a $1 billion market for FY 2023 moving to about $3 billion the following fiscal year,” said Franks. 

About the Author
Rebecca Hanchett

Rebecca Hanchett

Writer and Contributor
Rebecca Hanchett is a political writer based in Kentucky's Bluegrass region 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, she has been known to watch UK basketball from time to time.

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