Hundreds of Type C license bids

Ohio: supermarket giant Kroger applies for licenses to host sports betting kiosks at 42 locations

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Supermarket giant Kroger is seeking to join the upcoming Ohio sports betting market: the company has applied for Type C sports betting licenses to operate kiosks at 42 locations. The popular chain filed for the permits with the Ohio Casino Control Commission, ahead of the Buckeye State’s market launch on January 1, 2023.

Kroger is seeking to host sports betting kiosks at its numerous establishments throughout the state, having submitted applications for its 42 Ohio Lottery pre-qualified locations. While pre-approval implies the markets have been identified by the Lottery as suitable for sports betting kiosks, this does not guarantee all of the chosen locations will earn a license, as they still must receive the OCCC's greenlight.

According to Cincinnati Business Courier, some of the company’s latest applications were for the operation of kiosks at nine Greater Cincinnati supermarkets, all in Hamilton County. Those are part of the larger batch of applications the chain filed to offer sports betting at its numerous locations around the state, most of the others in the Columbus and Toledo areas.

But the company has a total of 42 locations, including 14 in Greater Cincinnati, on the Ohio Lottery’s pre-approved list, which enabled them to apply for licenses with the OCCC as well. Others are scattered around the state, including many in the Dayton and Columbus areas. It is unclear yet how many Kroger locations could potentially join the sports betting market.

Should Kroger enter this space, it would be a game-changing addition to Ohio’s market. While the chain wouldn’t necessarily be the leader in terms of wager size, it could have the upper hand for volume of bets, given its accessibility to the average resident. It has a leading market share for supermarkets and enviable foot traffic reach that casinos lack.

What Kroger doesn't have, however, is experience in the operation of sports betting facilities. While a majority of states have now approved this form of gaming since the PASPA repeal in 2018, sports wagering has been mostly confined to casinos and other similar betting facilities, with grocery stores being a fairly new addition to this growing landscape.

Bars and restaurants, also among locations seeking to host kiosks

Still, while potentially large, Kroger’s reach would most likely pale in comparison to that of mobile phones: in a majority of states, mobile betting typically accounts for more than 90% of bets. Additionally, betting at kiosks is subject to a number of limitations, such as a cap on how much money players can cash out through them.

Given the supermarket giant submitted its applications before the August 15 deadline, should it be approved by the OCCC for wagering, its kiosks would be able to launch on the January 1 universal start date. Its chosen locations are part of a total of 1,200+ pre-qualified locations, including several bars and restaurants, aiming for a Type C license to host sports betting.

In order for a business to be eligible to host a kiosk, it must hold a valid liquor permit; a valid Lottery sales agent license; have a recommendation for licensure by the Lottery; be a for-profit corporation or association. The supermarket chain ticks all these boxes, meaning that when sports betting becomes legal, gamblers might be able to place bets at their nearby Kroger store.

But Kroger is not the only supermarket chain in Ohio to receive prequalification to host sports betting. The state Lottery has also pre-qualified nine Acme supermarkets and 63 Giant Eagles locations in Ohio. Additionally, seven companies have applied for Type C sports betting proprietor licenses, which would make them able to provide kiosks to the approved hosts.

Last week, local media reported that the Ohio Lottery has revised and modified its rules on cashing in sports bets, making it easier for winners to receive their prizes at any lottery retailer. The changes were introduced in response to complaints that the previous rules would have forced venues such as bars and restaurants to keep too much cash on hand, putting them at risk for robbery.

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