6 Thoughts After 6 Months: Could Ohio Bet $8B This Year?

Written By Danny Cross on August 1, 2023 - Last Updated on August 2, 2023
Ohio Sports Betting Six-Month Analysis

The Ohio sports betting market hit the six-month mark this week — at least when it comes to revenue figures.

The Ohio Casino Control Commission on July 31 released its June revenue report, meaning we have the first six months of Ohio sports betting figures to look back on.

One immediate takeaway: Ohio is set to become a massive sports betting market, as the first six months of 2023 saw active bettors, engaged operators and even a tax-rate plot twist.

So what stands out about the market as it embarks on what should be an even busier back half of 2023?

Here are six takeaways from the first six months of Ohio sports betting.

1. Ohio sports betting market started with a bang

Ohio’s $1.1 billion January launch set a record for a U.S. sports betting market’s first month. The fast start, of course, was fueled in part by a whopping $320 million in promotional spending.

Kicking off legal sports betting during the NFL playoffs provided a huge boost to the market, and the Super Bowl and March Madness created a smooth on-ramp for sportsbooks to acquire customers over the first three months.

Since the explosion of betting activity in January, the Ohio market has settled into a more natural state, with promo spending gradually waning and monthly handle and revenue figures following the same downward trend all U.S. markets see heading into the summer months.


Through six months, Ohio’s $3.8 billion handle ranks fifth in the U.S. That sets the market on track to push past $7 billion this year, with the potential to hit $8 billion if betting volume proves particularly strong during the NFL season.

2. FanDuel and DraftKings are atop a competitive market

In June, FanDuel Sportsbook Ohio and DraftKings Sportsbook Ohio combined for a 68.2% market share for sports betting handle — right in line with May’s 68.6%.

FanDuel has led the way in all six months of 2023, though DraftKings has been inching ever closer to the top.

The domination of the market by the “Big 2” U.S. sportsbooks is no surprise. They have name recognition, huge promotional budgets and, more importantly, quality platforms that check all the right boxes.

Both FanDuel and DraftKings are here to stay, and they’ll continue to fight for the top spot in Ohio for years to come.

3. Bet365 joins the top-five party in Ohio

Regarding the most active sportsbooks in Ohio, one surprise player stands out: Bet365 Sportsbook Ohio. Bet365 is a popular book in England, where it is known for offering a vast array of international soccer markets.

In Ohio, Bet365 has been the biggest spender of promotional offers outside of DraftKings and FanDuel. That’s been a bit of a surprise for the relatively unknown sportsbook in U.S. markets — but it has worked well so far.

YTD promotional spending in Ohio:

  1. FanDuel: $214,742,008
  2. DraftKings: $128,843,040
  3. Bet365: $53,806,929
  4. BetMGM: $45,029,609
  5. Tipico: $9,341,452

Bet365’s commercials starring Breaking Bad actor Aaron Paul have become ubiquitous in Ohio’s professional sports markets. Just close your eyes as a Reds game goes to commercial, and his voice automatically appears in your mind: “In. Play. Betting…”

Those commercials don’t have the polish of specific national campaigns by the likes of BetMGM Sportsbook and Caesars Sportsbook, but they’re doing the trick. In addition, Bet365 is still offering the generous sign-up bonus it advertised before sports betting even launched in Ohio: Bet $1 to receive $200 in bonus bets. These days, it’s the best offer in the market.

Once again, the sportsbook’s success is ultimately going to be determined by the quality of its product. And Bet365’s no-frills platform has been surprisingly impressive, particularly the friendly baseball odds and same-game parlay boosts.

Bet365 has pushed into third place in market share in the last two months, and it appears to have long-term plans for Ohio — and potentially other markets.

Of course, BetMGM and Caesars — Nos. 4 and 5 in market share over the last two months, respectively — are high-quality platforms themselves that are also eyeing a long future in Ohio.

4. Promotional spending is dwindling heading into summer months

Ohio bettors are going to have to get used to fewer promotional offers — at least through the summer.

After splashing the market with $320 million in January, Ohio sportsbooks have reduced their promo spending every month of 2023, culminating in June’s paltry $14.2 million. On the plus side for bettors, the market posted its lowest hold at 9.0% in June, meaning bettors won back more of their betting volume than in any other month.

Ohio Sports Betting Promo Spending

We’ll see if promotional spending ramps back up once the NFL season kicks off in late August. The NFL is the cash cow of U.S. sports betting markets, and Ohio sportsbooks will undoubtedly be looking to capitalize on all their hard work acquiring customers during the early part of the year.

5. Sports betting kiosks were a novel idea, but their future remains unclear

Along with online and retail sportsbooks, Ohio’s sports betting legislation legalized sports betting kiosks to be operated through the Ohio Lottery.

The idea was to allow small businesses, like bars, restaurants and corner stores, to benefit from legal sports betting. Any business licensed to sell lottery tickets can add up to two machines by partnering with a kiosk proprietor.

So far, the kiosks have not come close to bringing in enough revenue to cover the lottery’s operating costs. That could be an issue if legislators are forced to subsidize the market down the line.

The biggest knock against betting kiosks: relatively few bet types, along with limits on bet sizes and weekly limits on betting volume. Plus, anyone standing in front of a kiosk could just as easily download a sports betting app and place their bets without getting off their bar stool.

Still, there are likely places where the kiosks are a draw for small businesses where locals enjoy playing Keno (also regulated by the Lottery) or host visitors from out of town who might not have downloaded an Ohio sportsbook.

The state will likely give the kiosks time to see where the market lands. There were several issues getting the kiosks launched in the first place, which contributed to a slower rollout and fewer users during the earliest — and busiest weeks — of sports betting in 2023.

Similarly, retail sportsbooks aren’t contributing much to the overall pot and are little more than amenities for casinos and sports stadiums. To date, retail sportsbooks have tallied just over $106 million in handle, just 2.8% of the market.

Still, all 11 of Ohio’s casinos and racinos have added retail sportsbooks, and they have been a welcome attraction for these businesses during a time when many were still climbing back from the COVID-19 pandemic.

6. Where will the sports betting tax rate end up?

One of the more surprising developments during the first six months of Ohio sports betting has been the debate among Columbus Republicans about where the tax rate should land.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine first proposed doubling the tax rate from 10% to 20% just six weeks after the Jan. 1 launch.

That was met with pushback from one of the law’s architects, State Sen. Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati). DeWine ended up formally proposing the tax hike in June, and it made its way through two GOP-controlled committees, much to Seitz’s displeasure.

Ohio’s initial 10% rate was on the low end for U.S. sportsbooks, and a 20% rate would be more in line with industry standards. Such an increase is unlikely to affect the market much, though it could cause smaller books to leave the state or potentially not come here at all.

Still, it’s a curious situation considering most people debating the issue were involved in Ohio’s initial sports betting legislation. They could have set the tax rate higher from the start.

Maybe it’s a matter of seeing the Ohio market blast off so quickly and wanting a bigger piece of the pie.

Either way, the Ohio sports betting market still has a ways to go before it reaches maturity sometime over the next 12 months or so.

The eyes of the sports betting industry will be on Ohio as it navigates these and other changes heading into the back half of what is shaping up to be a highly successful first year.

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Danny Cross

Danny Cross is the managing editor of PlayOhio, where he covers the Ohio sports betting and casino industries, including the latest news on Ohio sportsbooks and responsible gambling in the state. Cross joined PlayOhio from Pro Football Focus, where he wrote and edited articles on the NFL, fantasy football and betting.

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