Middling Performance In First 48 Hours For Ohio Sports Betting Kiosks

Written By Tyler Andrews on January 3, 2023 - Last Updated on January 4, 2023
Early returns on Ohio betting kiosks

With any new market or technology, complications are unavoidable. The Ohio sports betting kiosk market is proving no different for venues hosting the novel betting technology.

Since the Ohio sports betting kickoff on Jan. 1, business managers and owners have been equal parts pleased and frustrated with their kiosks in the first 48 hours of operation. 

PlayOhio spoke with six venues across the state to get their take on the opening weekend of kiosk betting in their establishments.

Current state of Ohio betting kiosks

As of midnight Jan. 1, 771 kiosks serviced by three proprietors were eligible to go live across the state. The three proprietors servicing those kiosks are: 

  • BetIGG
  • Ubet Ohio
  • Intralot

Intralot, which has collaborated with the Ohio Lottery in building its kiosks, accounted for 700 of the 771 kiosks in Ohio. The remaining 71 were a fair split between the other two proprietors.

The main difference at this point between Intralot and the other proprietors is that Intralot kiosks must be operated by bar and restaurant staff. The other two kiosk brands are self service

The Ohio kiosk market will feature a phased roll-out, with four other kiosk proprietors opening kiosks throughout the remainder of 2023.

The Ice House Inn (Youngstown)

  • Number of Kiosks: 1
  • Proprietor: BetIGG

We start with the bad news

When PlayOhio contacted The Ice House Inn, the management had already spent a painstaking few hours with BetIGG’s tech department on the phone. The Ice House Inn addressed a number of problems with their BetIGG kiosk, including no betting paper in the spool, a bettor depositing money but not being able to place bets, and another bettor depositing money and not seeing it reflected in her account balance. The manager had even got her keys stuck in the machine when advised by a technician to open the terminal.

As a result, the Ice House Inn’s kiosk saw zero bets placed during the opening weekend. 

Eric Carano, director of sales at BetIGG, provided PlayOhio the following comment regarding their product rollout:

“We had some software issues that were to be expected with a larger tech rollout. [Those] have been addressed and as of now, about 70% of our machines are up and running. The other 30% are experiencing minor things, unplugged components, no printer paper, and minor reboot scenarios.”

Carano described their rollout as “rounding the corner,” but bettors may want to beware when heading to a bar with an IGG kiosk in the coming week. A list of bars with kiosks organized by proprietor can be found on the OhioLottery website.  

The Pirate’s Den (Cincinnati)

  • Number of kiosks: 1
  • Proprietor: Ubet Ohio

The Pirate’s Den in Cincinnati received sporadic traffic throughout the weekend on their single Ubet kiosk. Management noted that bettors were more curious than active but expected traffic to pick up with familiarity. To that end, this venue noted that an overall lack of marketing material may have hindered the early returns on its machine. 

The Pirate’s Den also mentioned a common criticism among all the bars we talked with: a lack of staff training on the machines in advance of launch. With strict requirements from the state to keep the machines powered down before launch, bars like The Pirate’s Den didn’t have the opportunity to tour the software in order to help bettors place bets and set up accounts.

Like most other establishments we interviewed, they also noted that checking bettors’ IDs became a cumbersome task. All kiosks should eventually have an ID scanner inside the machine, so bettors can hold up a driver’s license or valid state-issued ID to have their identity verified. At this point, some Ubet kiosks don’t have that feature up and running yet, putting the onus on the bar staff to check IDs, which can slow the whole process down on busy nights. 

Jerzee’s (Akron)

  • Number of kiosks: 1
  • Proprietor: Ubet Ohio

The first of three Jerzee’s we spoke with also noted sporadic action on their one Ubet kiosk during the opening weekend. Management at the venue attributed the use frequency to the bar’s older clientele and their lack of familiarity with sports betting technology. They suggested that posted instructions around the kiosk would likely help their customers navigate the new machines more confidently.

Small-money parlays were the most common bets at this Jerzee’s, with bettors taking the approach of putting a few dollars on a number of games just to make it interesting. The biggest cash out at the venue was $101. Most bettors spent around $10.

Management expects that major betting events like the Kentucky Derby would draw a lot of patrons to the bar to watch and put bets on their horses. At the moment, betting on horse races is unavailable on kiosks.

Jerzee’s (Canton, Beldon Village)

  • Number of kiosks: 2
  • Proprietor: Ubet Ohio

The second Jerzee’s we contacted received consistent kiosk action during the 1 and 4 p.m. NFL games. This Jerzee’s location is a local hotspot and one of the only kiosk locations in the area. The owner is also trying to generate word-of-mouth traffic for being a business that will cash out all kiosk bets. (The state has encouraged kiosk hosts to cash out bets but is not requiring them to do so, as bettors can also cash out at lottery offices, through direct deposit, or through the mail.)

Parlays were also a favorite at this location, with two bettors cashing out similar four-leg parlays, each for $262.25, the biggest payouts of the weekend. Management felt that the kiosks enhanced the overall experience for bar patrons, but they reiterated the common complaint that more training for bar staff would have helped facilitate betting for the patrons. None of the bartenders working had any practice on the machines before Jan. 1. 

The feeling here was that the kiosks were a good fit for the clientele, but management was unsure as to whether the kiosks alone would be a draw for business.

Jerzee’s (Canton, Fulton Drive)

  • Number of kiosks: 2
  • Proprietor: Ubet Ohio

This Jerzee’s location also received consistent action on their two Ubet kiosks throughout the weekend. The clientele, mostly mid-30s and up, bet regularly throughout the full slate of Sunday NFL games, and management felt that the two kiosks fit in well with the overall bar experience. The only complaint lodged here had to do with the inactive ID scanners. At this busy location, the bar staff felt hampered by having to check IDs for all bettors using the kiosks to place bets and to cash out. 

Despite the inactive ID scanners, management noted that bettors only needed roughly a minute to set up their account and place their initial bets. This process, which allows all kiosks across the state to track a bettor’s weekly wagers, is needed to ensure bettors do not go over the $700 weekly limit on all kiosks. We find it encouraging that, as of now, that process has worked fluidly for most bettors.

Robin’s Nest Par-3 Golf Course (Cleves, near Cincinnati)

  • Number of kiosks: 1
  • Proprietor: Intralot

As noted, Intralot kiosks are currently down for the first two weeks of January. At Robin’s Nest, where Intralot is the proprietor, bettors can use a QR code posted on the powered-down kiosks to place bets through Intralot’s app and generate a bet slip which the golf course will print out. The golf course will also cash bets placed through the app.

Joe Oldiges, owner of Robin’s Nest, wasn’t surprised or frustrated by waiting for the kiosks to go live.

“Are we going to make a lot of money off this? No. If I’m lucky I’ll make $500 or $1,000 in commissions for the year. But if I make that then that probably means I sold a couple thousand dollars in extra beer or extra hot dogs or extra burgers.”

His goal, like all kiosk hosts we spoke with, was to enhance the experience his business already provided his customers. In this way, he sees the kiosks eventually serving that purpose by giving them a reason to stick around and enjoy the golf course after they finish a round.

“If [my customers] finish a round of golf and it’s 12:30 then maybe, hey, I can just stay here and watch the 1 o’clock game, watch the Bengals game, watch whoever and have a couple beers instead of going to a bar.”

Despite a few kinks, kiosks appear to boost Ohio businesses

With the inevitable technical difficulties jamming up some host businesses, the Ohio kiosk market seems to be good for Ohio businesses. While none of the six owners we spoke with felt that kiosks would become a major draw for bettors — mobile betting apps being the obvious reason why — most expressed an initial optimism that kiosks added to the experience they provided their patrons.

Kiosk rollouts continue in mid-January

Along with Intralot self-service kiosks going live in mid-January, BetSkyBox will launch its kiosks across the state. They will be followed by Gold Rush Sports Betting, which will begin their rollout Feb. 1.

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In the meantime, if you’re looking to place bets, you can also do it from home or on your phone.

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PlayOhio Managing Editor Danny Cross contributed to this report.

Tyler Andrews Avatar
Written by
Tyler Andrews

Tyler contributes regularly to PlayOhio.com, covering sports, sports law, and gambling for the Buckeye State. However, he has covered similar topics for PlayCA, PlayFlorida, PlayOhio, and PlayMA. Tyler’s current focus is Ohio's sports betting launch.

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