Ohio’s current gambling industry is a study of contrasts. It has 11 currently active casinos, none of which are on Native American or tribal land. This makes it unique compared to most other states, which only allow casino activities on tribal reservations. But, Ohio sports betting has been slow to progress.
Ohio’s state legislature has been dragging its feet regarding legalizing sports betting, daily fantasy sports, and other gambling activities. This is all despite early momentum after the Supreme Court struck down PASPA.
Indeed, news about sports betting developments in Ohio has been relatively sparse due to COVID-19 and other issues. But despite all of this lackluster news, there have been a few champions in the Senate and House of Representatives who are still pushing for sports betting legalization in the near future.
While sports betting may not be legalized over the next few months, there is a solid chance that sports betting will launch in Ohio by the end of 2021 or the beginning of 2022. Let’s break down everything you need to know about the prospective sports betting industry in this state so you’re ready to start wagering once your favorite betting app launches.
Ohio Sports Betting Recent Updates
Unfortunately, Ohio’s recent sports betting-related developments have not indicated a high likelihood of legalization in the short-term future.
Even though the Supreme Court struck down PASPA in 2018, which then allowed all states to determine whether they’d legalize sports betting, it took until the fall of 2020 for the first sports betting bill, called HB 194, to reach the Ohio state capital of Columbus. Even after reaching the capital, very little progress was made toward debating the measure or revising it.
Additionally, November 2020 saw two key lawmakers who supported the bill lose their seats to challengers. Due to this political development and COVID-19, practically no progress has been made on legalizing sports betting in Ohio from the legislative front.
However, that’s not the full story. The Ohio Senate President Matt Huffman has recently formed a gambling legalization committee alongside other key Republican and Democrat senators. It’s supposed to convene in May 2021, and it is supported by Gov. Mike DeWine. The committee will ostensibly address any existing legislative concerns surrounding the legalization of sports betting and help to push for analysis of the current measure on the table (HB 194).
Furthermore, Representative Brigid Kelly has spearheaded a movement to get the ball rolling with sports betting legalization. She is the last of the remaining original sponsors for the sports betting bill who still holds a seat in the Ohio legislature.
At the time of this writing, the aforementioned sports betting committee has not yet convened and there aren’t any details about what they will discuss or what has been included in the bill. However, it’s good to see that there are still people fighting for sports betting legalization in Ohio, even if momentum hasn’t yet been gained.
Which Sports Betting Sites Might Come To Ohio?
Since sports betting is not likely to come to Ohio until the very end of 2021 at the earliest, there’s no word about what sportsbook operators may pursue licensure in this state. However, we can make some educated guesses about likely operators based on their activity in other states and their focus on Ohio itself.
Since there aren’t any daily fantasy sports currently offered in the state, major operators like DraftKings and FanDuel don’t yet have a presence in Ohio. However, these two sports betting giants are among the most likely to pursue licensure just because they have a presence in practically every other legal sports betting state in the country.
Alongside these two, we’ll likely see big players like BetRivers, BetMGM, and William Hill make a move to acquire licensure if and when sports betting is legalized. Unfortunately, we don’t have any details about whether sports betting will be available at retail or brick-and-mortar locations only or at retail locations in addition to online platforms.
Currently, there are 11 land-based casinos in Ohio. These are notably not on Native American tribal land, so any future legislation may require sportsbook operators to be partnered with these land-based casinos to acquire licensure.
Ultimately, only time will tell what operators try to acquire licensure in Ohio and which operators decide to seek profits elsewhere. But you can be certain that many major operators will try for licensure since Ohio is currently an untapped market. So you’ll likely have several sportsbook choices regardless.
How To Place A Bet In Ohio
Details are also relatively sparse about how sports bettors will eventually be able to place wagers. There are two major ways in which this can turn out: online or in-person registration.
Because there are 11 retail casinos currently in Ohio, the state legislature may require wagerers to register in-person at partnered casinos before they can place a bet using a mobile sportsbook app. This would follow the precedent set by states like Illinois. Although in reality, Illinois ended up suspending the in-person registration requirement through most of 2020 and 2021.
However, it’s also possible that the legislature will craft legal sports betting laws to allow for online-only registration, which would be much more convenient for sports bettors. With this model, wagerers would be able to download and register their app from their couches.
Let’s break down the hypothetical registration process if this ends up being the case.
Download The App
All players will need to download the sportsbook app of their choice before placing any bets. iPhone users will be able to download their favorite sportsbook right from the App Store. Prior to March 2021, Google Play Store didn’t allow any gambling apps on its platform. However, it has since revised its policy. Currently, gambling apps are approved on a case-by-case basis, so Android users can check the Google Play Store platform or go directly to the website of their sportsbook-of-choice.
After downloading the app, the installation will begin automatically regardless of the platform used. The apps will also likely install geolocation software as a requirement of sports betting legislation. All other states require geolocation software to be installed, which will prevent sports bettors from placing wagers outside Ohio state lines.
Register For Sportsbook
Next, players will be required to register for their choice sportsbook by providing some pieces of personal information. This may include details like their Social Security number, physical address, and date of birth. All of this can be used to verify their identity and make sure they are actually Ohio residents.
Fund The Account
After downloading and registering for a sportsbook, players will be able to fund their sports betting accounts using a variety of methods. The available deposit methods are dependent on the sportsbooks in question, but most major platforms include deposit options like credit or debit card transfers, bank wiring transfers, and more.
After funding their accounts, players will be able to place wagers as they please. It’s also a good idea to check for any opening bonuses that may apply in your case depending on the sportsbook you choose to download.
Just be sure to check the terms and conditions, as most opening bonuses have a least a few. For example, you may need to claim your bonus within a week of opening your account.
Ohio Legal Sportsbooks
Ultimately, the path to sports betting legalization in Ohio is likely to take some time even at this point. But if you’re a sports bettor really chomping at the bit and wanting to place wagers, it’ll still pay to wait for legal sports betting instead of using an offshore or illegal betting site.
Simply put, illegal betting sites are not worth your time and money since they have subpar digital security and any personal information you provide will be at risk. Furthermore, nothing is stopping an offshore betting site from taking any money you provide to your account. There won’t even be a regulatory body to appeal to since you’ll technically be breaking the law.
Even worse, most offshore betting sites don’t include player-friendly odds or excellent promotions. All in all, it’s much better to wait for legalization, even if it’ll take some more time.
Fully licensed and regulated sportsbooks provide better sports betting experiences for their users, as well as much better digital security. Furthermore, legal sportsbooks are regulated by certain authoritative bodies, which can provide you with a path to reconciliation if you have a problem with your sportsbook at any point.
Ohio Sports Betting Revenue
At this point, it’s tough to estimate the kind of revenue that the Ohio state government might enjoy should they decide to legalize sports betting. That being said, we can look at states that already have legal sportsbook industries, as well as Ohio’s own casino revenue, to draw some early conclusions.
For example, Ohio’s casino industry generated nearly $172 million in gambling revenue in August alone. That’s a huge amount of profit from a single industry. Furthermore, that revenue is only from casino games and does not include racing or sports betting.
We can also look at states like New Jersey, which has well-developed sports betting industries. In the month of November 2020 (the most recent month for which data is available), the sports betting industry alone generated $50 million of revenue for the state government.
All in all, it’s clear that Ohio’s future sports betting industry has the potential to provide the state government with a lot of funding power should it decide to proceed quickly. There’s no doubt that the Ohio state government is also aware of these numbers. Therefore, it’s likely that 2021 will see the government accelerate the legalization process, especially since it is likely hurting from funding issues due to COVID-19.
How Ohio Compares To Other States
Ohio is a bit of a mixed bag when it comes to gambling overall. Remember, it has 11 brick-and-mortar casinos at the time of this writing, and there are over 18,000 video gaming and slot machine options spread throughout them. Additionally, players can place bets on horse races at those casinos and through using online apps like TVG.
Therefore, it’s tempting to say that Ohio is a relatively laissez-faire state when it comes to gambling. But the state government has been extremely slow when it comes to legalizing sports betting, poker outside of casinos, and other gaming activities.
This is likely because Ohio’s casino scene is more complex than you might think. There are so many casinos that there’s actually a little oversaturation for this market. Several of these casinos may close down over the next few years. They can’t turn enough of a profit because they’re all competing with one another.
Because of this, it’s more accurate to say that Ohio has an overdeveloped gaming industry in some areas and underdeveloped gaming industry in others. Perhaps this is why the state government is taking so long to legalize another form of gambling. They may not want a repeat of the casino issue, which is taking many years to resolve by itself.
But it’s also good that Ohio’s state government is not necessarily against gambling expansions in the future. Several other states are struggling with relatively conservative attitudes toward gaming, such as California, and may not allow for legal sports betting even over the next few years.
Ohio Betting Successes And Failures
Ohio Sports Betting Success
Ohio doesn’t currently have any sports betting successes to speak of since no version of the activity is legal, even in the state’s retail casinos. However, it is likely that Ohio will legalize sports betting both in-person and online when legislation is finally passed.
That’s because the state is generally pretty relaxed about what forms of gambling it does allow. The existing casinos have video and slot machines, poker games, and even horse race bets available for any guests.
It’s unlikely that Ohio’s sports betting industry will be restrictive or underwhelming when it finally launches.
Where Could Ohio Improve Online Gambling?
Naturally, Ohio could improve its online gambling industry in multiple ways. For starters, it could allow online slots and casino games (since it does not currently allow any online gambling save for horse race betting).
Ohio could also launch online sports betting quickly, even if it takes some time for retail sportsbooks to set up shop. Depending on the provisions outlined in future sports betting legislation, it might take a little while for retail sportsbooks to get their ducks in a row at partnered casinos.
To accelerate the launch for its residents, Ohio could allow mobile sportsbooks to start ahead of their retail locations. This would allow players to begin placing wagers up to several months earlier than they would if they had to wait for retail sportsbooks to also be ready for guests.
Legalization Efforts In Ohio
Sports betting legalization efforts in Ohio have been both quick and lackluster. For example, Ohio’s legislators began discussing possible sports betting legalization even a couple of weeks before the Supreme Court struck down PASPA, as they knew that there was enough public will for the measure that they would be able to pass such legislation relatively easily.
But despite this eagerness, Ohio’s legislators were not able to put together a pair of suitable bills for the House and Senate until near the end of 2020. By that point, COVID-19 was in full swing, and discussion about the bills stalled and eventually went silent altogether.
Even worse, several of the major supporters for the sports betting bill were voted out of office during the November 2020 elections. As a result, discussion about sports betting legalization has become relatively stifled compared to other concerns for the state government.
This being said, several champions of the bill have risen and attempted to take up the torch left behind. These include Sen. Matt Huffman and Representative Brigid Kelly, both of which are interested in pushing for sports betting legislation development through the use of a dedicated committee and analysis of potential revenue from the industry.
These individuals and others like them are still trying to get other senators and representatives interested in debating the bill. Because of their efforts, sports betting legislation could enter the governmental spotlight as early as mid-2021, which is when the proposed specialized gaming committee is due to convene for the first time.
Hopefully, the recent momentum shown by individuals such as Representative Kelly will continue for the next few months. With luck, Ohio residents may be able to enjoy legal sports betting by the end of 2021 in some capacity.
Timeline Of Ohio Sports Betting
- 2018 – The Supreme Court calls PASPA unconstitutional and Ohio legislators start discussing a potential legal sports betting bill
- November 2020 – HB 194 is brought to Columbus, the Ohio State capital, and discussion begins almost immediately
- January 2021 – Senate President Matt Huffman creates the Select Committee on Gaming, which will be comprised of seven members, including both Republicans and Democrats
- Feb 2021 – Representative Kelly announces her intention to support sports betting legalization in Ohio
- May 2021 – The Select Committee on Gaming is due to convene in May
Ohio may not have any sports betting at this time, but there’s certainly a market for the future industry. Although there are other states with many more professional sports franchises to boast about, Ohio does have a couple of professional sports teams with dedicated fans.
Ohio Professional Sports Teams
- The Cleveland Browns and Cincinnati Bengals, both NFL teams
- The Cleveland Cavaliers, an NBA team
- The Cleveland Indians and Cincinnati Reds, both MLB teams
- The Columbus blue jackets, and NHL franchise
Therefore, Ohio is one of the few states the has all four major sports leagues represented by their own home teams. These teams compete every year in major tournaments and competitions. Each of the above teams also has a small army of dedicated fans that would provide instantaneous sports betting revenue to the state government when sports betting is finally legalized.
Ohio College Sports Teams
Ohio is not as well known for its collegiate sports teams in any capacity. This being said, the state does have a few major colleges with collegiate teams for baseball, basketball, and football, including Ohio State and Bowling Green State University.
But many states that have legalized sports betting have also implemented restrictions on collegiate bets for their home teams. For example, New Jersey doesn’t allow any collegiate sports bets whatsoever if the games take place within the state or if their team is playing.
There’s been no word as to the contents of HB 194 and what it says about collegiate sports betting, nor what Ohio legislators think is appropriate for their future sports betting market. Therefore, time will tell whether collegiate sports betting is allowed in Ohio at all, or if it is totally restricted as it is in many other legal states.
Other Sports To Bet On In Ohio
In addition to major sports franchises and leagues, sports bettors in Ohio will be able to place wagers on other activities like darts, NASCAR, and even eSports depending on the sportsbook operator they use. Many top sports bettors have betting markets for these activities and more, especially DraftKings and FanDuel.
Ohio Sports Betting FAQs
No, and neither is in-person sports betting. There are no online betting activities whatsoever save for online horse race betting, which can be accomplished through a few select mobile apps.
No, but we also don’t know whether college sports betting will be legalized when sports betting overall comes to the state.
No. If and when sports betting is legalized, it’s all but certain that it will include a location requirement. Any legal mobile sports betting app will include geolocation software to track your location as you place a wager. It’ll stop you from using the app if you cross over state lines. But, generally, bettors do not need to be a resident of the state.
You will most likely need to be 21 years of age or older, as this is the required age found in other legal states throughout the country. It’s also how old you need to be to visit any of Ohio’s retail casinos, which will more than likely be partnered with the sportsbook operators who get licenses.
It’s not clear, but it’s almost certain you’ll be able to bet on all major professional franchises and leagues, including baseball, basketball, football, and hockey. But remember that the exact wagers you’ll be able to place or dependent on the sportsbook operator you choose. Some operators, like DraftKings, will have wider and deeper betting markets for folks who want to place bets on as many sports as possible.
The organization to be in charge of the Ohio sports betting industry has not yet been announced. But it’s likely that the Ohio Casino Control Commission, which already regulates the active casinos in the state, will either regulate sports betting as well or have a hand in the formation of the committee responsible for overseeing sports betting.