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Rovell: Ohio on Track Toward Being A Top 5 Sports Betting State

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Jason Mowry/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Ohio Stadium, home of the Ohio State Buckeyes football team.

January 1st marked the entrance of the great state of Ohio into the legal sports betting world. And it’s possible the Buckeye State is on track toward becoming a top five sports betting state.

Ohio is seventh in the country in population with 11.7 million people, but remember, the top three most populated states — California, Texas and Florida — don’t have legal sports betting.

At 11.7 million, Ohio has 2.5 million people more than New Jersey — ranked No. 2 in the country in total sports handle. The Garden State is alone with just New York in taking more than $10 billion in bets in a year.

“The betting volume in Ohio has been through the roof,” said Jason Scott, vice president of trading for BetMGM.

When New York launched in Jan. 2022, sportsbooks peppered new users with juicy bonuses that enticed plenty of agnostic sports fans to sign up. While the scale isn’t at the same stratosphere this time around in Ohio due to macroeconomic factors, the promo race has still been profound.

You can glean more than $8,000 in promo dollars across the state’s 14 online sportsbooks as a new user.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Take Maryland for example, which launched the week after Thanksgiving. FanDuel issued a $5,000 risk free bet there, up from their typical $1,000. DraftKings littered new users in the state with VIP promotions. Other books followed suit.

Expect the same promotions to develop over the next few weeks in Ohio, the fourth-largest state by population to launch online sports wagering, behind New York, Pennsylvania and Illinois.

In signing up new users, the sportsbooks have plenty of fans to choose from.

Ohioans love their sports and it certainly helps that one of their two pro football teams is a Super Bowl contender in the Cincinnati Bengals. The Cleveland Browns also have a rabid fanbase. And in sports betting, NFL is king.

Then there’s Ohio State, which is effectively the state’s flagship team. And a key point here is that — unlike other states — Ohioans will be permitted to wager on in-state collegiate teams.

“Having two pro football teams and Ohio State is huge,” Scott said. “Having Ohio State as a guaranteed great team every year can’t be underestimated.”

The biggest hurdle ahead? The state’s expendable income rates. Median household income is $79,000 a year, which is ranked No. 32 among states. Compare that to figures from competitor states in New Jersey ($118K), Maryland ($114K), Virginia ($106K), New York ($105K) and Colorado ($101K).

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