Ohioans will soon find out exactly when legal sports betting will arrive in the state. The Ohio Casino Control Commission will announce a universal start date on Wednesday for all operators to begin business.
According to the commission, the start date “is likely to be close to, if not exactly on, January 1, 2023.”
The announcement threw cold water on speculation that the state was moving quickly enough through the rulemaking process to launch sports betting in Ohio early in the fall. Doing so would have allowed the state to take advantage of the huge draw of the NFL season and other professional leagues that kick off in October.
While Week 1 of the 2022 NFL season is no longer a possibility, there’s still a chance Ohioans can place bets on at least some of the biggest games in 2022.
The following are three scenarios for Ohio sports betting start dates that could be announced next week.
Best case: Nov. 1 sports betting launch means eight additional weeks of NFL
Launching sports betting on Nov. 1 might be a long shot considering the commission’s note that the start date will be “close to” Jan. 1, 2023.
Ohio will open the application windows for sportsbook operators on June 15 and will accept applications during two 30-day windows. That puts the licensing process into September.
The rulemaking process is nearly complete, and the OCCC will now focus on the 3,000 or so applications it expects to receive from prospective operators. All operators must be ready to launch on the same day, so there is certainly work to do.
Still, the timeline leaves room for an early launch, provided the commission can process the applications quickly enough.
Launching on Nov. 1 would allow operators to be in business for eight weeks of the NFL season in 2022, plus the final month of college football and the majority of bowl season.
Every week of the NFL season matters for both sportsbooks and Ohio’s coffers.
At stake: $1.15 billion in football betting volume
According to a PlayOhio analysis, Ohio stands to miss out on $130 million per week in NFL betting volume during the 2022 NFL season. If sports betting is live on Nov. 1, Ohio sportsbook operators would bring in around $1.04 billion in betting volume during the eight weeks of games in 2022.
College football will bring in around $456 million in handle in Year 1. It’s difficult to break down college football handle by week because conference schedules overlap and bowl games work differently than the NFL playoffs. But even a conservative estimate of 25% of yearly handle would be about $114 million in college football betting during November and December, bringing the total fall football betting handle to around $1.15 billion.
The weekly gross revenue — or combined win for the sportsbooks — on NFL betting alone could be around $7 million per week, leading to upwards of $700,000 in tax revenue per NFL week. That adds up to $56 million in revenue over those eight weeks and a tax haul that could reach $5.6 million in 2022 from the NFL alone.
Football betting represents around 30% of national handle, so any slice of the 2022 season would be a nice head start for Ohio, which is likely to generate $9 billion to $12 billion in total annual handle within its first few years.
In addition, the NBA and NHL begin their seasons in October. Ohio has one team in each league in the Cleveland Cavaliers and Columbus Blue Jackets.
Worst case: Launching Jan. 1, 2023 would be a missed opportunity
The NFL is the golden goose of sports betting, and both of Ohio’s teams are popular among bettors and likely to compete for playoff spots this season. The Cleveland Browns (+1800) and Cincinnati Bengals (+2200) rank among the top-11 favorites to win Super Bowl 57 at Caesars Sportsbook.
As AFC North divisional rivals, the Browns and Bengals will play a hugely important game on Dec. 11 in Cleveland. The Browns will host the Baltimore Ravens in a critical matchup the following week.
The Bengals’ visit to Pittsburgh to play the Steelers on Sunday Night Football on Nov. 20 will be nationally televised and could have divisional title implications as well. That game will be heavily bet on in states where sports betting is legal.
Fall is a busy sports season in Ohio
In addition to the NFL season, the following leagues and sporting events will attract betting interest this fall:
|Baseball||MLB playoffs begin||Oct. 7|
|Hockey||NHL season begins||Oct. 7
|Basketball||NBA season begins*||Mid-October
|Soccer||MLS Cup||Nov. 5
|Basketball||Men's college basketball season begins||Nov. 8
|Soccer||FIFA World Cup||Nov. 21-Dec. 18
|Football||Thanksgiving Day NFL||Nov. 24|
|Football||OSU vs. Michigan||Nov. 26|
|Football||AAC Championship||Dec. 3|
|Football||Big Ten Championship||Dec. 5|
* The 2022-23 NBA schedule has not been released. The league began the 2021-22 season on Oct. 19, 2021.
College football will also draw a fair share of betting interest. Most conferences wrap up their regular seasons around Dec. 1.
One November date is already circled on the calendars of Ohio State Buckeyes football fans: the annual OSU vs. Michigan rivalry game on Nov. 26. That game could decide the Big Ten East Division.
The Cincinnati Bearcats football team will play its final five games of the 2022 regular season in November. After earning a spot in the College Football Playoff last year, the Bearcats are likely to compete for the American Athletic Conference championship and should draw betting interest across the state as well.
Ohio’s six Mid-American Conference football programs will have some great intra-Ohio matchups during November, including Akron vs. Bowling Green on Nov. 9.
The World Series usually ends in October, but last year the Atlanta Braves clinched the title over the Houston Astros in Game 6 on Nov. 2.
Median case: Thanksgiving Day would be a nice consolation prize
If Ohio can figure out how to launch sports betting by Thanksgiving, the market would still catch some of the biggest betting days remaining in 2022. Thanksgiving’s three NFL games are a great time for new bettors to activate bonuses and try out new apps. The Ohio State-Michigan football game is two days later.
Sandwiched between those big football dates is a massive “fútbol” game, as the U.S. Men’s National Team will play England in a Black Friday World Cup showdown on Nov. 25.
The Big Ten Football Championship Game will be a big draw on Dec. 3, pitting the conference’s East and West division winners against each other in a nationally televised game at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
Launching sports betting in Ohio by Thanksgiving would add five weeks of the 2022 NFL season. That would attract $650,000 in NFL betting volume, leading to around $35 million in gross revenue and up to $3.5 million in taxes from the NFL in 2022.
College football’s bowl games will be scheduled throughout December, many of which are nationally televised on weeknights with little competition from other sports.
What’s next for sports betting in Ohio?
The Ohio Casino Control Commission on June 1 will announce the universal start date for operators to begin taking bets in Ohio.
Virtually every major online sports betting operator should be ready for the opening with plenty of lead-up time to secure licenses and gain approval from the OCCC.
Sportsbooks will be able to market to bettors and even sign up new customers in the weeks leading up to the launch.
Sports betting in Ohio will include online platforms, retail sportsbooks and betting terminals through the Ohio Lottery. The market is expected to be a monster in the industry.