Early Thoughts On Ohio Sports Betting Market, Best Sportsbook Apps

Written By Brett Gibbons on January 17, 2023 - Last Updated on January 25, 2023
Hard Rock Sportsbook Ohio

It’s been just over two weeks since sports betting in Ohio kicked off. “Overwhelming” was an often-used word to describe launch day itself, as dozens of new retail and online sportsbooks hit the market all at once.

But how are things going now that we’ve all settled in? Which sportsbooks offer the best in-app experiences and which offer the best promos?

I’ve been touring Ohio’s retail sportsbooks and have tested most apps on the market. For added context, I also surveyed my friend group to help rank the sportsbook apps so far.

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Ohio sports betting two weeks in: How’s it going?

Overall, Ohio’s sports betting launch went about as well as could be hoped. There were few, if any, app function hiccups and no widespread complaints. The Buckeye State saw a record-smashing 11.3 million transactions in the first two days, beating out New York’s launch by over two million.

Two weeks in, Ohioans are still happy with it. A consistent inflow of favorable odds boosts and a maintained smooth function of pretty much every sportsbook app is keeping the state engaged and satisfied. DraftKings Sportsbook and FanDuel Sportsbook often match each other’s promos, offering over 20% +EV (expected value) plays frequently throughout the NFL playoffs and Cavs season.

The overwhelming majority of polled bettors felt Ohio’s launch went perfectly, giving it a 5 out of 5 on a linear scale. Zero participants felt the launch went poorly.

Further, the majority of the surveyed field said they’re at least moderately comfortable betting day-to-day.

The Advertising Problem

However, Ohioans do not believe sportsbooks are advertising responsibly. Less than a week after launch, multiple books faced fines from the state. Among the issues with advertising is the political ad season-esque onslaught of marketing, misleading verbiage (i.e. “free bets” and “risk-free bets” — terms banned by the Buckeye State), pushing negative EV “boosts,” among other things.

My personal chief complaint is with the persistent promotion of same game parlays. Typically, the first thing you see on the app — the attention grabber — is preset same-game parlay “boosts.” These are almost always negative EV plays or uncorrelated dart throws intended to grab customers by both having gaudy odds and posting how many other bettors placed that bet, too.

It’s not just one or two books. It’s a rampant problem throughout the industry.

Perhaps I’ll expound on this more in the future.

Ohio sportsbook power rankings

I took the average finish when asked to order seven sportsbooks currently operating in Ohio:

  1. FanDuel Sportsbook
  2. DraftKings Sportsbook 
  3. Caesars Sportsbook
  4. bet365
  5. BetMGM
  6. PointsBet (note: the majority of the survey noted they do not use PB)
  7. betJACK

The Top Books

FanDuel Sportsbook and DraftKings Sportsbook were the top books in almost every survey. They were voted by 100% of participants as having a top-three user interface, in functionality, and in best promos and bonuses. As mentioned, the two books often match each other’s promos, which led to them having the most “no-brainer” bets that users loved early on.

Their navigation menus are also the easiest to find and move through. This is likely at least a bit attributed to the two operators already existing in Ohio for daily fantasy sports (DFS) for years.

Caesars Sportsbook also received favorable feedback in their user interface and function. I personally did not mark them inside my top three in terms of function because the two-factor authentication (TFA) code can take a handful of minutes to get to you. For live bettors, this is an impassable flaw. Other books make TFA an almost-instantaneous process.

Their interface is clean and navigable, but I do not live bet on the Caesars Sportsbook app.

Other Sportsbook App Notes

Bet365 Sportsbook was voted by many as having good promotions, with regular odds boosts on relevant games.

BetJACK was voted by myself as having one of the better user interfaces, though their TFA goes through email rather than SMS. BetJACK also offered a fairly confusing signup offer, few odds boosts, and almost no promos. The early experience turned away the majority of the survey from betting with BetJACK.

BetMGM‘s app was noted to be clunky and difficult to use. The interface is behind the other books in the opinion of the survey. However, they do offer consistent promos and odds boosts.

Overall thoughts on Ohio sports betting two weeks in

If you did your homework, sports betting in Ohio is an overwhelmingly pleasant experience. The majority of sportsbooks offer a glut of promos, profit and odds boosts, and more. The majority of sportsbooks also function well and make sports betting easy.

The biggest issue thus far is the over-saturation of sportsbook advertising and the manner in which they promote in-app to users.

FanDuel Sportsbook and DraftKings Sportsbook are the majority favorites after two weeks. Mostly, it’s due to familiarity, user interface, and exciting promos offered. Caesars Sportsbook and bet365 were honorable mentions in those categories, as well.

Ohio may continue to break records with its volume of sports bettors. We’ll check back in on the Buckeye State soon.

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Photo by Hard Rock Sportsbook
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Brett Gibbons

Brett Gibbons is a contributing writer for PlayOhio and TheLines.com. Brett specializes in sports betting and has previously written for Sports Illustrated and Fansided. Brett is an avid sports traveler and former Division-I football recruiter for Bowling Green and Texas State.

View all posts by Brett Gibbons