New Year’s is a time of reflection, one that allows all to evaluate and start anew. That’s doubly so for many of the companies expecting to hit the ground running when the Ohio sports betting market officially opens at the crack of midnight on Jan. 1, 2023.
Of course, the Ohio sports betting market will include the nationally known names you’d expect – DraftKings, FanDuel, BetMGM and Caesars, among others. But there are a handful of lesser-known companies looking to not only keep pace but lead the way off the starting line thanks to a universal launch.
The following are five brands that could come out of the gate hot in the Ohio sports betting market potentially become leaders in the Buckeye State sooner than later.
Fanatics expands from apparel to sports betting
This is an easy one. Fanatics has made moves over the last year to enter the sports betting market on the national stage. Starting strong in Ohio could be key to that aspiration.
We’ve already discussed at PlayOhio why the Buckeye State presents a unique opportunity for the apparel/merchandise company to compete with the big boys on the market. And the closer we get to launch date, the more and more it makes sense.
To illustrate the point, let’s talk about Ohio’s neighbor to the east in Pennsylvania. BetFanatics, the name the company will use for its betting platform, has applied for multiple licenses in the Keystone State. And with one of the largest state handles in the country, why wouldn’t it?
However, BetFanatics will have to deal with the fact that companies like FanDuel, DraftKings, Barstool, BetRivers and BetMGM are already well-established, having cracked the $1 billion plateau in lifetime handle. The Pennsylvania competition is fierce, and the same can be said in other states where sports betting has been legal for some time now.
In Ohio, it’s a clean slate. Everyone is on the starting line together. And, sure, all those aforementioned companies will still be around, but if done right, BetFanatics can come in as the shiny new toy in a market full of used ones. Curiosity alone could help generate new customers.
All of these reasons can be used for any of the companies on this list, if we’re being honest. However, due to Fanatics already being a big name (albeit in another industry) and with the backing of powerful (and uber-rich) CEO Michael Rubin, it seems Fanatics has the best chance to really turn the market upside down come New Year’s Day.
Betr backed by Ohio’s Jake Paul
As many are learning in the boxing scene, dismiss Ohio’s-own Jake Paul at your own risk.
The YouTuber-turned-boxer-turned-entrepreneur has been making money moves in recent years, and his latest will extend into Ohio sports betting. Betr, a sportsbook that will place an emphasis on micro-betting, is a newly formed company that announced its existence in early August.
Paul, along with CEO Joey Levy, is hoping Betr will provide a niche option for Ohio sports bettors in the new year. By focusing on micro-betting, Betr Sportsbook will center its product around live betting, which has been problematic for current legal sportsbooks.
PlayOhio has previously touched on the frustrations that surround live betting and how Betr plans on fixing that, but the new company’s biggest advantage might just be its partnership with Hall of Fame Resort & Entertainment. The 10-year agreement will make Betr the Hall of Fame’s official mobile sports betting partner.
In addition to having Paul, a Cleveland native, as the face of the company to promote it, Betr also has the financial backing of some big names. Travis Scott, Dez Bryant, Richard Sherman and Ezekiel Elliot are all reported investors, putting together over $50 million in funding.
As the self-proclaimed “Problem Child,” Paul and Betr could create problems for big-name companies when Ohio launches in 2023.
Bet365 has worldwide reach
Anyone who knows sports betting worldwide has heard of Bet365. But if you’re a novice looking to get involved when Ohio ushers in sports betting in January, then the company may be unfamiliar.
A fixture across the pond, the United Kingdom-based Bet365 will certainly have its work cut out for it breaking into Ohio. But this isn’t its first rodeo. By using its success in Europe via hardcore soccer fans and tweaking it slightly to accommodate new Ohio bettors, there’s a recipe for success for Bet365 Sportsbook.
Oh, and the company has partnered with the Cleveland Guardians as its official mobile app partner. Who knows how this season will end or what the future looks like for the franchise, but being associated with the current AL Central leaders can only help Bet365’s endeavor to shake up the market.
Prophet Exchange offers a unique option
Count this author as one who is very intrigued by what Prophet Exchange is doing. Will it be successful? That’s anyone’s guess, but if it’s going to hit the ground running anywhere, it could be Ohio.
Prophet Exchange is a peer-to-peer app that will allow bettors to bet against other bettors. They’ll have the ability to set lines, which could be intriguing to those who are willing to take on other individuals with unique lines.
The one catch is the fact that the company will only benefit when a bettor profits, taking 2%. For reference, most sportsbooks charge 10% to take a bet. So this begs the question: Will the company be profitable? That’s dependent on how Ohio bettors take to the unique approach.
Prophet Exchange applied for a mobile license in Ohio in the most recent round of applications. It officially got off the ground in New Jersey with its debut earlier this week.
Fubo and Underdog are dreaming big
Okay, we cheated: We chose two for the final selection, therefore making it six potential brands on this list. But the reason these two fall under the same umbrella is that they are smaller, pesky companies that are dreaming big.
[Update: In a surprise development, FuboTV in October closed its Fubo Gaming subsidiary and all of its Fubo Sportsbooks. The Cleveland Cavaliers are now looking for a new sportsbook to partner with.]
You may recognize the name Fubo if you ever dabbled into the streaming television service it has provided for years now. The company will build off of that by integrating its sportsbook into its streaming product.
The biggest thing going for Fubo? The fact that it has a long-term partnership with the Cleveland Cavaliers, one of the most exciting up-and-coming teams in the NBA. Fubo will likely benefit from the publicity as it attempts to keep pace.
Underdog isn’t new, either, having long been a fantasy sports platform. It hopes to follow a similar path of sports betting giants FanDuel and DraftKings, both having started as DFS companies.
Similar to Fubo, Underdog Sportsbook Ohio will be aided by its partnership with the Cincinnati Reds. The team may not be good on the diamond, but Ohioans love their baseball. A partnership with the team can only benefit Underdog’s journey from DFS to traditional sports betting.
These apps are among a strong group of 25 coming to Ohio
Time will tell which companies will rise to the top when Ohio launches universal sports betting in 2023. And the five brands above will certainly have their work cut out for them with a strong crop of sports betting apps coming to the market.
Just don’t be surprised if any (or all) of the aforementioned companies are keeping up with the big boys off the starting line.