Esports have grown in popularity over the past few years. Watching the events is one thing, but betting on them is something else entirely.
Legal sports betting in Ohio began on Jan. 1, 2023.
Esports betting was a part of the state’s day-one lineup, but it could have ended up on the back burner. For now, Ohioans can bet on certain esports thanks to approval by the Ohio Casino Control Commission.
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 OCCC 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 in other states
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.
When can you bet on esports in Ohio?
You can bet on esports right now at any Ohio sportsbook offering the events. The OCCC approves sports for betting based on the following criteria:
- It is based on statistical results which can be proven by a box score, aggregation of box scores, or other statistical analysis.
- It is based on the performance of a single or group of rostered or otherwise registered athletes.
- It is based on the result of an outcome on the field of play (including the virtual field of play for eSports).
Eleven governing bodies were approved for wagering beginning on Jan. 1:
- Blast Premier
- Call of Duty League – Majors
- ESL Impact
- ESL Intel Extreme Masters
- ESL Pro League
- ESL Pro Tour
- Global Esports Federation – Global Esports Games
- Global Esports Federation – Global Esports Tour
- Overwatch League
- Riot Gales – League of Legends – World Championships
- Riot Games – Valorant Champions Tour – Masters, Champions, & GC World Championships
More esports could be approved for betting in the future. The OCCC accepts input from Ohio sportsbooks and will consider additional wager types and sports on an ongoing basis.