We now know that sports betting will officially launch in Ohio on Jan. 1, 2023. Now it’s up to the Ohio Casino Control Commission to license the litany of operators soon to descend on Ohio’s sports betting market.
The commission on June 24 reported the latest operators to apply for sports gaming licenses: DraftKings and JACK Entertainment. DraftKings does not have a partner yet, but in 2019 it secured market access through Penn National Gaming. Penn currently operates two casinos and two racinos in Ohio.
PlayOhio will update this article every Friday as more operators are awarded licenses.
Which operators have applied for Ohio sports betting licenses?
Neither is a surprise. BetMGM is one of the biggest sports betting operators in the U.S. and owns MGM Northfield Park racino just outside of Cleveland. PointsBet is another major name in U.S. sports betting and has access to the Ohio market through a partnership with Penn National Gaming.
DraftKings and JACK Entertainment are now in. Dozens of other operators will file applications during the next few weeks as Ohio’s sports betting market begins to come into greater focus.
Ohio sports betting application window is open
The commission is currently accepting applications for sports betting operator licenses during two 30-day windows. Any applications that miss the two 30-day windows will not be guaranteed consideration ahead of the universal start date.
The state expects to review around 3,000 Ohio sports betting license applications in the coming months.
According to the OCCC:
“January 1 will represent the largest expansion of gaming in Ohio’s history and the largest ever simultaneous launch of sports gaming in the United States.”
Sports betting in Ohio will include online platforms, retail sportsbooks and betting terminals through the Ohio Lottery.
Ohio sports betting apps, retail sportsbooks and terminal operators up first
The Ohio Casino Control Commission will get the big-name operators moving first.
In order to launch on Jan. 1, all online sportsbooks, retail sportsbooks and operators of betting terminals must submit applications between June 15 and July 15.
That means up to 25 sports betting apps from the likes of DraftKings, FanDuel, BetMGM and Caesars will file applications and be ready to launch soon.
The OCCC acknowledged that online sportsbooks are likely to be ready before other operators.
“The Commission is aware that some stakeholders, specifically many online operators, have fewer preparations to make leading up to launch and could start sooner,” the commission said in a statement. “However, pursuant to HB 29, all forms of sports gaming must have the opportunity to launch on the exact same date.”
Casinos and professional sports franchises have planned ahead for sports betting
Many retail sportsbooks will also be ready to roll early. Ohio’s 11 casino and racino venues and the 10 home stadiums of eligible sports teams or leagues are set to be sportsbook locations. They have all been making plans for sports betting to launch in Ohio.
Every MLB, NFL, NHL and NBA franchise in the state will file their applications for a physical location during the first window. The Muirfield Village Country Club (home of the PGA Tour’s Memorial Tournament) and Ohio’s NASCAR track (Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course) will be eligible as well.
Additionally, all first-designated mobile management services, which will partner with both online sportsbooks and brick-and-mortar locations, will apply during the June 15-July 15 application window, along with equipment suppliers.
Up to 40 retail sportsbook licenses up for grabs in Ohio
Ohio will award up to 40 licenses for brick-and-mortar sportsbooks in the state. These applications will be due during the first window, June 15-July 15, as well.
The Ohio sports betting bill determines which counties will land these licenses according to population.
- 1 license: counties with a population of 100,000 to 399,999
- 3 licenses: counties with a population of 400,000 to 799,999
- 5 licenses: counties with a population over 800,000
Counties that draw significant tourism will be eligible to apply for licenses even if they miss the population threshold. Counties with a population of at least 50,000 but less than 100,000 will qualify if they attract at least 5 million tourists per year.
Based on the latest census data released in March, 27 counties meet the minimum threshold of 100,000 residents.
PlayOhio is tracking which Ohio counties are likely to have a retail sportsbook.
Bars and restaurants hosting sports betting kiosks to apply next
The second application window will run from July 15-Aug. 15.
Bars, restaurants and grocery stores that operate Ohio Lottery terminals and are looking to host a betting kiosk operator may apply during this window.
Sports betting hosts and operators have distinct responsibilities but work in tandem to provide up to two sports betting kiosks per location.
The operator will install equipment, train staff and provide ongoing equipment maintenance and service, along with marketing and customer service.
Hosts must follow rules regarding where kiosks are placed, displaying responsible gambling materials and paying out prizes up to $599. Operators are responsible for payouts of $600 or greater.
Second-designated mobile management service providers will also apply during the July 15-Aug. 15 window.
Ohio Lottery to release names of businesses granted sports gaming host licenses
The Ohio Lottery has already begun contacting bars and restaurants that might be eligible for a sports gaming host license.
Those businesses can’t formally apply until the July 15-Aug. 15 window, but the Lottery will soon publish a list of hosts that are pre-approved for a license. Those businesses will be able to partner with operators licensed to run the kiosks.
The Ohio Lottery pre-qualified 469 applicants on June 3. By June 10, the list had grown to 556. The lottery will continue to update the list. But each qualified applicant still needs to acquire a license from the Ohio Casino Control Commission (OCCC).
Employee application windows also opening
The commission is now accepting both key and standard sports gaming employee applications through July 15.
Key employees are defined as “individuals empowered with greater control and authority.” These employees will be subject to a more thorough review than other gaming employees.
Standard employee applications may be filed as soon as June 15 but must be filed within 60 days of the universal start date.
What’s next for Ohio sports betting?
The Ohio Casino Control Commission will work through the 3,000 or so license applications over the next two-plus months.
Once licensed, businesses will work on completing buildings, distributing kiosks, hiring and training employees, agreeing on and announcing partnerships, and many other tasks associated with opening a well-regulated sports betting business.
Ohio’s sports betting law allows room for virtually every major online sports betting operator. Plus, the casinos and pro teams are likely to construct new venues and betting areas for sports fans to try out.
State residents can also expect a parade of Ohio sports figures to appear at in-person events on Jan. 1 at the state’s four casinos and other venues where folks 21 years or older will be able to bet on sports.