Ohio now has an official universal start date for regulated sports betting: January 1, 2023. The date was confirmed by the Ohio Casino Control Commission's Executive Director, Matthew Schuler, at Wednesday's meeting. This means it won't be in time for the NFL season start, scheduled for September 8, 2022.
The first application window will run from June 15 to July 15. The regulatory body that will be in charge of this new market estimates approximately 3,000 license applications ahead of that date, and said in a statement that this launch marks the largest gaming expansion in Ohio’s history, and the "largest ever simultaneous launch of sports gaming in the United States." It also explained the date was chosen to give all stakeholders time to start offering sports wagering on the same date, including businesses looking to offer online and retail options, as well as kiosks in bars and taverns across Ohio.
During this 7-month period before launch, "prospective licensees will be completing buildings, distributing kiosks, hiring and training employees, obtaining partners, and making all other necessary arrangements to begin offering sports gaming from the same starting line. The Commission is aware that some stakeholders, specifically many online operators, have fewer preparations to make leading up to launch and could start sooner. However, pursuant to HB 29, all forms of sports gaming must have the opportunity to launch on the exact same date," the watchdog explained.
Matthew Schuler, Ohio Casino Control Commission's Executive Director.
Ohio’s legislature passed House Bill 29 legalizing sports betting in December, and Gov. Mike DeWine signed it on Dec. 22. Sports betting must start by Jan. 1, according to the bill, but there was room for it to start before then.
According to industry estimates cited by the regulator, this launch will require detailed due diligence investigations, as well as comprehensive compliance examinations, of approximately 3,000 licensees ahead of that date. The Commission said it is also providing stakeholders with several updates, including finalized versions of applications, updated versions of FAQs, an updated implementation timeline, and a complete document with the Commission’s draft regulations.
The final applications versions are already available on the Commission’s main sports gaming page and are "largely unchanged" from when stakeholders received draft versions last month.
JACK Entertainment already unveiled plans to offer betting at two new sportsbooks located in Cleveland at its JACK Thistletown Racino and JACK Cleveland Casino; as well as online and mobile formats through a new app that could be used anywhere in Ohio. It has already launched betJACK, a free-to-play sports betting app catering to Ohio’s fans ahead of the sports market’s opening.
Also, the Hall of Fame Village at Canton’s Pro Football Hall of Fame has reportedly invested more than $300 million into the multi-use sports and entertainment project, which will now include a sportsbook. The sports complex is expected to be completed this year along with a new center for performance and fan engagement zone, which will open later this summer.
Hollywood Casino Toledo has recently said the launch of sports betting couldn’t come at a better time, as the Penn National Gaming-operated facility is in the middle of an expansion. The redevelopment efforts will include a Barstool Sportsbook for retail sports wagering.