The Cleveland Cavaliers are the Ohio professional sports team that will not launch an online sportsbook in January, but the plans for a Caesars-branded retail sportsbook at Rocket Fieldhouse are still moving forward.
The abrupt shuttering of all Fubo Sportsbooks left the Cavaliers without an online partner and too little time to move another sportsbook through the regulatory process before the Ohio sports betting launch on New Year’s Day.
Still, the online sportsbook setback will not affect the Cavs’ retail sportsbook plans, as the team is moving forward with a brick-and-mortar Caesars Sportsbook set to open on Jan. 1, 2023.
Cavaliers Retail Sportsbook Still On The Way
Despite the sportsbook app setback, the Cavaliers’ plans for a retail sportsbook are still intact.
And the Caesars Sportsbook inside Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse will be somewhat unique among in-stadium sportsbooks in Ohio, as it will offer ticketed fans access even if they entered the arena to watch in-person.
That means fans will not have to download an Ohio sportsbook app to make bets inside the arena, although they will be allowed to bet on apps in the arena if they prefer.
The NBA restricts teams from opening retail sportsbooks in common areas, but there will be access to the sportsbook area from within Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse. The Cavaliers’ sportsbook will be open year-round.
Other professional leagues are more restrictive when it comes to retail sportsbooks operating inside stadiums and arenas.
Losing online sportsbook parter causes delay, missed opportunity
Switching gears and also partnering with Caesars on an online sportsbook is not an option, as Caesars has already partnered with Scioto Downs to bring its sportsbook app to Ohio.
The delay could cost the Cavaliers’ new sportsbook app crucial customer acquisition time, as several online sportsbooks have already released Ohio pre-launch offers to entice new customers. Caesars, for example, is currently offering $100 in free bets and a chance to win Cavaliers tickets for new users.
These offers allow new customers to sign up early and have promotional funds waiting for them the day Ohio sports betting goes live.
Fubo’s Last-Minute Closure Throws a Wrench Into Cavaliers Ohio Launch
Fubo’s abrupt shuttering of its gaming subsidiary came as a big surprise. The company had applied for its online sportsbook license the first day the Ohio Casino Control Commission accepted applications.
The Cavaliers had partnered with Fubo for the past year, with Fubo sponsoring a Cavs Pick ‘Em game in the NBA franchise’s app during the 2021-22 season.
Fubo’s parent company was unable to follow through with the next stage of the plan, however. In October, the company said it was unable to “lower its funding requirements and generate sufficient returns to shareholders” and the Fubo apps running in Arizona, Iowa and New Jersey all stopped taking bets on Oct. 17.
The Cavaliers are currently looking for a new online sportsbook to partner with, but a spokesperson for the Ohio Casino Control Commission told Legal Sports Report that it is “highly unlikely” the Cavs could launch a betting app on day one:
“The CAVS will be able to select a new MMSP, but it is highly unlikely they would be able to start on January 1 due to the lengthy licensing and compliance requirements and the Commission’s current cadence of processing applications.”
With Fubo Sportsbook out of the picture, a total of 24 online sportsbooks are in line to launch in Ohio.
Stadium sportsbooks on the way to Ohio
The following partnerships have been announced for retail sportsbooks at Ohio’s professional sports stadiums and arenas. We will find out more details in the coming weeks about each location:
- Cleveland Browns (Bally Bet Sportsbook)
- Cleveland Cavaliers (Caesars Sportsbook)
- Cleveland Guardians (Fanatics Sportsbook)
- Columbus Blue Jackets (Fanatics Sportsbook)
- Columbus Crew (Tipico Sportsbook)
- FC Cincinnati (Superbook)
- Cincinnati Reds (BetMGM Sportsbook)
- Cincinnati Bengals (No retail sportsbook)
The Cincinnati Bengals passed on opening a retail sportsbook due to the NFL’s rules on in-stadium betting. They can still apply for a retail license at a later date.