Citing NFL Rules, Cincinnati Bengals Pass On Retail Sportsbook At Paycor Stadium

Written By Danny Cross on September 21, 2022
Ohio Retail Sportsbook

More than half of the retail sportsbooks heading to Ohio have now been approved after the Ohio Casino Control Commission on Wednesday licensed nine more entities, along with approving the Cincinnati Bengals’ application to host an online sportsbook. 

The total number of retail sportsbooks slated to launch on the Ohio sports betting universal start date of Jan. 1, 2023 has climbed to 16. A total of 26 businesses applied for the licenses.

The Bengals also received their license to partner with an online sportsbook. However, the Bengals have not applied for a retail license at Paycor Stadium, citing NFL rules against in-person, in-stadium betting during games.

Cincinnati Bengals, Betfred pass on retail sportsbook

Commissioners asked a representative of the Cincinnati Bengals why the team only applied to host an online sportsbook and not for a retail license as well. The representative called it an “NFL-policy related decision.”

“As it currently stands, the NFL does not allow in-person sports betting at any stadium,” she said, “so Betfred and the team chose not to pursue a Type-B license because of this.”

The NFL bans in-stadium betting during games. The Arizona Cardinals recently opened a sportsbook slightly off stadium grounds to get around these rules.

The Bengals declining to pursue a retail sportsbook now could signal they are waiting for the NFL to eventually change the rules and that a potential sportsbook down the road could be inside Paycor Stadium.

Meanwhile, the intrastate rival Cleveland Browns have been approved for a retail sportsbook. The franchise is partnered with Bally Bet.

Fallout from the Bengals’ decision could allow for another entity to consider applying for a license in Hamilton County. As of now, only four retail sportsbook licenses have applied in the county, while five are available.

The Bengals have partnered with Betfred Sportsbook to operate a sports betting app. That license was approved on Wednesday.

Nine more Ohio retail sportsbooks approved

The following sportsbooks are officially on the way after receiving licenses for both retail and online sportsbooks Sept. 21:

  • FC Cincinnati
  • MGM Northfield Park
  • Scioto Downs
  • Columbus Blue Jackets
  • Cleveland Cavaliers
  • Cleveland Guardians
  • Hollywood Casino Columbus
  • Hollywood Gaming at Dayton Raceway
  • Belterra Park Cincinnati

During the Sept. 7 commission meeting, the following businesses received both licenses as well:

  • Cleveland Browns
  • Columbus Crew
  • Muirfield Village Golf Club
  • Cincinnati Reds
  • Hollywood Casino Toledo
  • Hollywood Gaming at Mahoning Valley
  • Jack Cleveland Casino
  • Jack Thistledown Racino

Bengals, FC Cincinnati approved on second try

During the Sept. 7 meeting, commissioners decided not to approve or deny the applications of FC Cincinnati and the Cincinnati Bengals.

Commissioners did not offer a reason for delaying those votes, but Executive Director Matt Schuler offered a stern message during that meeting for businesses that filed incomplete applications.

The commission set a new deadline of Oct. 5 for applicants to provide thorough application details or risk missing Ohio’s start date. Schuler did not say which applicants risked falling behind.

Schuler on Sept. 21 reiterated this deadline and noted other plans and tests that still need to be approved by the compliance department by Nov. 2

The next commission meeting is scheduled for Oct. 5.

More kiosk hosts approved

The commission approved another 311 Ohio businesses to host sports betting kiosks, bringing the total to over 800.

Schuler noted that over 500 businesses have been pre-approved by the Ohio Lottery that have not filed applications.

The commission has previously encouraged pre-approved businesses to file applications even though the deadline has officially passed. The kiosk host applications are more simple than the retail and online sportsbook applications and can be processed quickly.

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Danny Cross

Danny Cross is the managing editor of PlayOhio, where he covers the legislative and regulatory process of legalizing sports betting and the latest news on sportsbooks coming to Ohio ahead of Jan. 1, 2023. Cross joined PlayOhio from Pro Football Focus, where he wrote and edited articles on the NFL, fantasy football and betting.

View all posts by Danny Cross