The Ohio Casino Control Commission on Wednesday began accepting applications for three types of sports betting licenses, as part of the timeline toward the January 1, 2023 statewide launch date for retail and online operators. The regulator will begin sharing the list of applicants on Friday. This first application window will run from June 15 through July 15.
The three license types cover providers of online betting platforms, with applications costing $150,000 each; land-based casino-style betting operations, or retail sportsbooks, with the application cost at $20,000 each; and companies that will run the sports betting kiosks that will appear in certain businesses with liquor licenses, like bars, restaurants and bowling alleys.
When the regulatory body announced the "universal" launch date earlier this month, it estimated 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.
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. The date confirmation ended expectations that it could be up in time for the NFL season start, scheduled for September 8, 2022.
The legislation sets limits on the numbers of online betting vendors and physical sportsbook locations. Generally, sportsbooks only will be allowed in more populated counties, with Cuyahoga County authorized to have up to five of the statewide maximum of 40. Some locations, like a partnership between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Caesars Entertainment at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse, already have been announced, pending state regulatory approval. In April, NFL’s AFC North division team Cleveland Browns established a new multi-faceted partnership with Bally’s Interactive, a division of gaming giant Bally’s Corp., prior to the launch of sports betting in Ohio. The long-term agreement includes market access, mobile sports betting, a lounge at FirstEnergy Stadium, and branded free-to-play games.
The Ohio Lottery Commission, another agency setting up state sports-betting regulations, already has been receiving applications from businesses interested in offering sports betting options, approving 555 of them, including 13 in Cleveland. The applications still require another level of approval from the Casino Control Commission.
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.