Everything You Need To Know About Esports Betting In Ohio

Written By Jake Garza on August 30, 2022
Ohio gamblers could be betting on video games next year

Esports have grown in popularity over the past few years, but will you be able to bet on them in Ohio? Watching the events is one thing, but gambling on them is something else entirely.

Legal sports betting in Ohio begins on Jan. 1, 2023.

Esports betting could be part of the state’s day-one lineup, or it could end up on the back burner for the time being. The waters are murky, and it ultimately depends on what Ohio regulators think of video game gambling.

Different views on esports betting

Ohio’s sports betting laws allow for esports betting in the state. Betting on video game events will be legal, as long as the Ohio Casino Control Commission regulates the industry.

So far, Ohio has embraced unique gambling ideas. That’s a much different approach compared to other states around the country.

There are a handful of states in the U.S. that have fully legal and regulated esports betting industries, but there are even more that want nothing to do with it.

Take Ohio’s western neighbor as an example. Indiana’s laws go out of their way to specifically forbid esports betting.

The Hoosier State has one of the more open sports betting markets in the country and is even home to the NBA 2K League’s headquarters. Despite that, esports wagering is off the table for Indiana bettors.

Getting lawmakers on board is a difficult process, as they often need several rounds of extra education to wrap their heads around the concept of esports.

Esports are a relatively new phenomenon. That’s different from other events like basketball and football, which lawmakers have often spent their whole lives around.

Plus, esports are a little more complicated when it comes to regulation.

After all, officiating a game of NBA 2K is different compared to a Call of Duty or League of Legends match. Because every game is different, some states opt to avoid esports altogether rather than to dive into all of the surrounding weeds.

Unlike Indiana, Ohio’s laws allow for esports betting. That’s one big hurdle out of the way when it comes to making it available for bettors in the state.

Esports stuck in limbo

Video game betting is legal in the Buckeye State, but that doesn’t mean it will be available on the first day of Ohio sports betting in January.

While some states allow esports betting, and others specifically forbid it, there’s a third group of states that end up somewhere in between.

Michigan is prime example of that situation. Much like Ohio, Michigan’s sports betting laws allow for esports betting.

However, Michigan regulators never added esports to the state’s list of approved sports betting options. Esports betting is technically legal in the state, but sportsbooks aren’t allowed to offer odds on any of the events.

That puts gamblers in a strange position, where esports betting is only available at a handful of retail sportsbooks in the state’s tribal casinos.

Ohio could find itself in a similar situation if regulators don’t approve esports betting from the start.

When can you bet on esports in Ohio?

There’s plenty of potential for esports wagering to be available on Ohio’s first day of sports betting next year. A Jan. 1 start is still on the table, but it ultimately depends on when regulators approve it in the state.

The Ohio Casino Control Commission hasn’t put together its list of approved sports for gambling yet. However, a Commission spokesperson tells PlayOhio that sportsbooks can make requests for the events they want to offer odds on.

“The Commission has not yet finalized the sports wagering catalogue – that will come at a later date. Entities and sports governing bodies will be able to petition the Commission to add or restrict wagers and events.”

In other words, even if the Commission doesn’t initially give esports the green light, individual sportsbooks can still send in a request to get the ball rolling.

That’s a similar system to what other states use. It opens up another avenue for video game betting to make its way to Ohio.

There’s no way to know exactly when esports betting will be available in Ohio. That’s the bad news.

The good news for esports hopefuls? There are a handful of different ways to bring wagering to Ohio.

Even if esports wagering isn’t available on the first day of sports betting, at least individual sportsbooks and esports organizations can petition Ohio regulators to make it happen.

Photo by Shutterstock
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Jake Garza

Jake Garza is a US Gambling Industry Analyst for Catena Media. He specializes in Midwest sports betting and casino content. Prior to covering the legal gambling industry, he spent time as a professional sports writer, reporting on teams such as the Cincinnati Bengals, Indianapolis Colts and Indiana Pacers. Garza is currently working as a Staff Writer for PlayOhio, with previous stops at other well-known brands such as PlayIllinois, PlayMichigan and PlayIndiana. He has been covering the gambling industry since 2019, and currently works with a team of other journalists to provide comprehensive coverage of all things Ohio gambling related.

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