Ohio Sports Betting Takes Shape Ahead Of January Launch

Brutus the Ohio State Buckeye runs on the field before a game against the Michigan State Spartans at Ohio Stadium on November 20, 2021 in Columbus, Ohio.
Image Credit: Emilee Chinn/Getty Images

Ohio sports betting became legal in December 2021, but any hope of active betting options in 2022 went out the window when regulators chose January 1, 2023 as the official launch date.

The slower timeline has several benefits. Operators, particularly smaller operators, benefit from a synchronized launch, allowing every approved sportsbook to enter the market on equal footing. Regulators will also benefit, as they’ll have an opportunity to vet and approve as many licensees as possible thoroughly.

Even with the launch more than five months away, the Ohio sports betting market is starting to take shape.

The Licensing Process

The licensing window opened on June 15. The Ohio Casino Control Commission updates its list of sports betting license applications every Friday, and as of July 15, the list numbered 22 mobile and 24 retail applicants.

July 15 is an important date, as applications submitted after that date are not guaranteed to be part of the universal launch on January 1, 2023.

No Shortage Of Mobile License Applications

As noted, the OCCC has received 22 mobile licensing applications. 18 of those licenses list the mobile platform provider:

  1. JACK Cleveland Casino – PlayUp Interactive
  2. HOF Village (Pro Football Hall of Fame) – Instabet
  3. Cincinnati Bengals – Betfred Sports
  4. MGM Northfield Park – BetMGM
  5. Scioto Downs – William Hill
  6. Hard Rock Casino Cincinnati – Hard Rock Digital
  7. Cleveland Browns – Bally’s Interactive
  8. Columbus Blue Jackets – Fanatics
  9. Crew SC – Tipico
  10. Muirfield Village Golf Club – Parx Interactive
  11. Cincinnati Reds – Underdog Sports Wagering
  12. Cleveland Cavaliers – Fubo Gaming
  13. Hollywood Casino Columbus – Barstool Sportsbook
  14. Cleveland Guardians – bet365
  15. Hollywood Casino Toledo – DraftKings
  16. Hollywood Gaming at Mahoning Valley – PointsBet
  17. FC Cincinnati – SuperBook
  18. SPIRE Institute – Out the Gate

The four applicants that do not include a mobile platform provider are:

  1. Hollywood Gaming Dayton Raceway
  2. Belterra Park
  3. JACK Thistledown Racino
  4. Miami Valley Gaming and Racing

Most, but not all, of the names are recognizable.

One name that should raise an eyebrow is SPIRE Institute, a multi-sport complex purchased in 2019 and transformed into “a fully-accredited, college preparatory boarding and day high school.” SPIRE Academy is for grades 9-12, which could prove problematic for its licensing hopes, particularly with the Academy also applying for a retail betting license.

Retail Sports Betting Nuggets

On the retail side, there are currently 26 applicants. Once again, most of the applicants are known entities, but there are several interesting applicants and other tidbits to report.

A Sizable Presence For Penn National

Penn National has four properties in Ohio, each expected to house a retail Barstool Sportsbook. The Barstool Sportsbook mobile app will operate under the Hollywood Casino Columbus license, with DraftKings and Pointsbet using other Penn properties to gain mobile access. The fourth Penn property, Hollywood Gaming Dayton Raceway, doesn’t list a mobile platform.

Stadium Sportsbooks

Based on the applications, Ohio will have plenty of sportsbooks located at non-gaming sports properties.

Here is the current list and the property’s sports betting supplier:

  • Hall of Fame Village – BetRivers
  • Cleveland Browns – Bally’s Interactive
  • Columbus Blue Jackets – Fanatics
  • Murfield Village Golf Club – Parx Interactive
  • Cincinnati Reds – BetMGM
  • Cleveland Cavaliers – William Hill
  • Cleveland Guardians – Fanatics
  • FC Cincinnati – SuperBook

A Few Oddball Applicants

Harry Buffalo, a local sports bar-restaurant chain, and Ravencrest Partners have applied for a retail betting license but are unlikely to receive one. The reason is retail licenses are limited to five in Cuyahoga County, with preferential treatment given to casinos, and sports franchises – Other applicants in Cuyahoga County are the two JACK Casinos, the Cleveland Browns, Guardians, and Cavaliers.

There is also the previously mentioned SPIRE Institute. And then there is Phantom Fireworks, a company that needs no explanation and, if approved, would create one of the strangest sports betting mashups in the country.