Ohio Sports Betting Market to be One of the Best in U.S., Sources Say

Ohio Sports Betting Market to be One of the Best in U.S., Sources Say article feature image

Jim McIsaac/Getty Images. Pictured: Bengals QB Joe Burrow

When Ohio goes live with sports betting on New Year's Day, it will become the fourth largest legal state and it will have one of the most consumer-friendly markets.

The "largest simultaneous launch ever", as Ohio Casino Control Commission Executive Director Matt Schuler is calling it, will open the door to as many as 46 mobile sportsbooks, kiosk betting at bars, grocery stores and more. Between partnerships with the Buckeye State's many pro teams, a low tax rate and opportunities for small businesses, sports betting will be everywhere.

"It will be one of the most competitive markets in the country, if not the most competitive," said Brandt Iden, head of government affairs at Sportradar.

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'The Place You'll Want to Be if You're Betting'

The abundance of potential sportsbooks will force operators to compete for the best payouts, which will allow bettors to shop around for the best lines.

Ohio's sports betting law allow for five times as many betting apps as New York, which has led all states in dollars bet every month since going online. Unlike New York, which taxes at a 51% rate, operators in Ohio will pay a 10% tax and be able to write off any revenue tied to promotions.

That should open the door to a plethora of promos for Ohioans to take advantage of.

“It's the place you’ll want to be if you’re betting on sports. You’re going to have a lot of opportunity for competition," said John Pappas, state advocacy director at iDEA Growth.  "Given the size of the market, you’re going to see some companies launching for the first time ever."

One of those companies, JACK Entertainment, has already launched, in hopes of capturing market-share before betting officially starts. Ohioans can download and use the betJACK app to make picks right now, though money won't be on the line until the Jan. 1 start date.

Pro Teams Embrace Betting

All 10 of Ohio's major pro sports teams — as well as the PGA and NASCAR — that operate properties in the state will be able to obtain online sports betting licenses. The rest of those licenses are set aside for Casinos and racinos, which are essentially racetracks with legal gambling locations.

That essentially means online sportsbooks must partner with one of them to have a presence in the state. And several sportsbooks have already positioned themselves to launch.

The Cleveland Cavaliers and Fubo Gaming are working on a 3,000 square-foot betting lounge inside Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse that should have the look and feel of a Vegas-style sportsbook. On the arena's street level, Caesars plans to open up its own retail sportsbook.

Bally’s Interactive and the Cleveland Browns are working on a similar venture, while Tipico's partnered with the Columbus Crew of the MLS and betPARX with the PGA Tour. Expect similar announcements leading up to launch.

Pro teams in Washington D.C. and Arizona have already launched in-stadium sportsbooks, while other teams across the country are working on theirs. In-person betting makes up about 15%-20% of revenue in places where both online and retail are legal, but these partnerships should serve as a great marketing tool.

"It’s an opportunity to market to tens of thousands of people gathering in one place multiple times a week and getting them to place bets," Pappas said. "It makes people think of you more as a physical presence rather than just a website without any connection to some people. It’s important."

Milk, Eggs and $20 on the Bengals ML

Ohio, like a few other states, is going to let small businesses get in on the action. Bars, restaurants, convenience stores and supermarkets will be able to install sports betting kiosks, as Ohio's law makes a Type-C license available to any place with a Class-D liquor license.

Those kiosks will be limited to $500 a wager and should serve essentially a similar societal role as lottery tickets. Kiosks are a little different from traditional retail counter-style sportsbooks. They cut down on wait time, allowing customers to place in-person bets fairly easily and don't come with the pressure of chatting with a teller.

"It's finding those casual bettors that go to the grocery store, pick up a few things and go ‘oh, there’s a game tonight, let me put $20 on it’," Iden said. “I think it's going to become a popular model."

It remains to be seen just how many of those establishments apply for licenses (applications open June 15). In Washington D.C., nearly 40 businesses have installed kiosks — though those are all tied to city's sole mobile betting app, which is run by the DC lottery.

“I can’t imagine a scenario where everyone who’s going to be in the market launches on January 1. It just never works that way," Pappas said. "I’d imagine you’ll have a good 10-20 online operators launch on the first and then others come into the market over the course of the year."

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