12 retail and 16 mobile sportsbooks

Ohio officially debuts legal sports betting on New Year's Day

Former Reds All-Star Pete Rose places first bet at Hard Rock Cincinnati.
Reading time 3:20 min

Sports betting is now officially live in Ohio. The countdown to the 2023 New Year coincided with the countdown to legal sports gaming in the Buckeye State, with midnight marking the launch of the new market.

After several delays and failed bills, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine signed House Bill 29 into law in December 2021. And throughout 2022, the state hammered out details of the new industry, which is under the watch of the Ohio Lottery and the Casino Control Commission.

A total of 12 licensed retail sportsbooks and 16 online sportsbooks officially opened for business on January 1. More parties also greenlighted to conduct sports betting by the state’s Casino Control Commission will launch throughout the year.

The Buckeye State is now among 32 states and Washington, DC to have legalized sports betting in some capacity. According to early projections from PlayOhio, Ohioans are expected to wager about $8 billion in the first year. Meanwhile, BetOhio anticipates the state will net around $50 million in 2023.

NFL's Cleveland Browns

Almost all tax revenue (98%) from sports betting will go to the Sports Gaming Profits Education Fund (SGPEF). The remaining 2% of tax revenue will go to the Problem Sports Gaming Fund to help problem gamblers.

While data about the first day of sports gaming is scarce given that betting just started, sportsbook operators say the launch has been promising. "I think I can say it was probably our most successful launch to date," Bryan Bennett, Chief Operating Officer of Betfred USA, told The Enquirer.

While the kickoff of sports betting arrived near the end of the NFL season, operators say the New Year’s Day launch perfectly coincided with a busy day for professional football. According to the NFL's website, 14 games were scheduled for Sunday.

A large number of major national brands have now launched their operations in the state. Among them is BetMGM, which claims to have accepted Ohio’s first sports wager – a bet from Matt Lewis at MGM Northfield Park’s new sportsbook. The company also debuted the BetMGM Sportsbook at the Great American Ball Park on Sunday, accepting wagers from Cincinnati sports legends George Foster and Tim Krumrie.

"Today marks a monumental day of growth for both BetMGM and the sports betting industry," said Adam Greenblatt, BetMGM CEO, on Sunday. "Ohio is home to thousands of passionate sports fans, who now have the opportunity to enjoy first-hand the excitement and benefits of wagering with BetMGM."

Caesars Entertainment, which is an “Official Sports Betting Partner” of the Cleveland Cavaliers, launched both online sports wagering and retail sports gaming. Sports bettors can now place wagers at betting windows and self-service betting kiosks at Eldorado Gaming Scioto Downs in Columbus; and in-person bets at Caesars Sportsbook inside Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. 

"Caesars Sportsbook is ready to offer a top-of-the-line sports betting experience to Ohioans," said Eric Hession, President of Caesars Digital. "We look forward to providing an added level of excitement to the sports entertainment experience, whether they use our mobile app or visit one of our new retail sportsbooks in Columbus or Cleveland."

Hard Rock International didn’t miss the action either. As the clock struck midnight, the Hard Rock Sportsbook at the company’s Cincinnati casino was open with former Reds All-Star Pete Rose placing what is also being labeled the state’s first legal sports bet.

“Ohioans are crazy about their sports, they really love their sports and we think it’s going to be quite popular,” property president George Goldhoff told Spectrum News. “The money that was being bet by Ohioans, whether it was in Michigan or Indiana, is all going to stay here in the state and the taxpayers are gonna benefit.”

BetMGM's ribbon cutting ceremony in Ohio

Other parties allowed to launch in Ohio include mobile betting brands FanDuel, DraftKings, Barstool Sportsbook, bet365, PointsBet, and more. As for retail locations, Ohioans will be able to wager on venues including Belterra Park, Hollywood Casino Columbus, JACK Cleveland Casino and Hollywood Gaming at Dayton Raceway, among others.

In addition to the 16 mobile sportsbooks and 12 brick-and-mortar sportsbooks greenlighted to launch on January 1, the Ohio sports betting law allows for a bevy of retail locations for wagering, including not only casinos and racetracks but also sports venues, bars and restaurants. The law also allows for lottery partners to offer kiosks everywhere from bowling alleys to bars and even grocery stores.

While some kiosk locations were expected to be ready to go live Sunday, it’s tricky to tell where live kiosks will be available and when given the high amount of locations greenlighted. About 1,000 kiosk locations were approved to launch ahead of the market’s debut.

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