New provisions

Ohio issues rules for sports betting kiosks at bars, restaurants; Elys inks new partnership to enter the market

Holy Grail Tavern & Grille at the Banks, one of Ohio's restaurants seeking to offer sports betting.
Reading time 2:53 min

The Ohio Lottery Commission has published proposed rules for sports betting in state bars and restaurants. While the possibility to join the market -and to drive more consumers to their venues and improve food and beverage consumption- was long sought by restaurant owners throughout the Buckeye State, a provision in the five-pages document has caused controversy.

“Unless otherwise approved by the director, no Type C sports gaming host shall have more than two self-service terminals operational at the licensed facility,” reads a part of the five-pages document. While the two-kiosk limit was part of a Senate bill passed last June, Ohio’s sports gaming statute did not include a clear restriction when passed last December, reports ABC 9.

The Ohio Lottery will be taking public comment until April 28, but many voices have already begun raising concerns about the two-kiosk limit: venue owners believe the number allowed might not be enough for the expected demand. 

“My gut tells me on a Reds game or a Bengals game, 20 minutes before the game starts, two is not going to be enough,” said Jim Moehring, owner of Holy Grail Tavern & Grille at the Banks. His concern has been echoed by other restaurant and bar owners throughout the state.

Given Ohio Lottery officials will be taking public comments until the end of the month, a chance exists the controversial measure will be revised prior to final adoption. Type C licenses bring sports betting to bars and restaurants -allowing up to 20 sports gaming proprietors to operate kiosks for an unlimited number of gaming hosts- and are issued by the Casino Control Commission, but regulated by the Ohio Lottery, which expects about 2,500 hosts.

Restaurants and bars would pay a $1,000 fee for a three-year license, and would be required to install kiosks, train gaming hosts on how to use them, and provide ongoing maintenance and technical support. The number of kiosks at each location is “limited to two terminals unless the proprietor requests approval for additional units.”

That restriction differs from language used in the bill that passed last December, which just required proprietors to notify the Ohio Casino Control Commission “if it intends to install more than two terminals.” While the Casino Control Commission has no restriction on the number of terminals for Type C licenses, the Lottery now does.

Additionally, a Lottery rule requires hosts to cash winning bets up to $599, a provision that might force venues to keep thousands of dollars of cash on hand, a probable security and accounting issue. The sports gaming law calls for the market to launch by January 1, 2023.

Upon announcement of the new Type C license rules, interactive gaming and sports betting technology company Elys Game Technology announced it has agreed on terms to establish “an exclusive partnership with Wright Bet Ventures LLC to operate multiple sportsbooks in the state of Ohio.”

Grand Central Bar, the first to debut sports betting in D.C.

Elys’ wholly-owned subsidiary USBookmaking will provide sports wagering services to manage the sportsbook risk and provide bookmaking services, the business said. It would see Elys expand upon its already-launched restaurant operations in Washington, D.C.

“If successfully licensed by the Ohio Casino Control Commission, the Elys and Wright Bet partnership could offer up to 12 sportsbook locations throughout the state of Ohio,” the company said. Elys' partner Wright Bet is a private equity-backed sports wagering solutions business based out of Dayton, Ohio.

“We look forward to expanding our U.S. footprint into the state of Ohio and importantly contribute to the grassroots economy by partnering with local businesses and passionate entrepreneurs," stated Michele Ciavarella, Executive Chairman of Elys. “We believe that our cutting-edge Gameboard technology puts Elys in a league of its own as a first mover and pioneer in the U.S. small business sportsbook sector.” 

“We are thrilled to enter into this partnership with Elys," stated Dr. Morar, Co-Founder of Wright Bet Ventures. “We were very surprised that there are actually very few companies in the industry that have the technology and focus primarily on this space. There are many in the online and large casino sectors, but very few are singularly focused on technology that is appropriate to be implemented into smaller more private facilities such as local establishments.”

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