League Restrictions Pit Ohio Pro Teams With Tough Sportsbook Questions

Written By Danny Cross on September 29, 2022 - Last Updated on October 11, 2022
FirstEnergy Stadium

Ohio’s eight professional sports franchises will all be involved in sports betting come Jan. 1, 2023.

But each will have to conform to rules and regulations set forth by their leagues, meaning the process for placing a bet at a Cleveland Cavaliers home game will be different from doing so at a Cleveland Browns game once Ohio sports betting goes live.

Here’s how the NFL, NHL, MLS and Major League Baseball could affect the retail sports betting experience at various stadiums and arenas throughout Ohio.

Cincinnati Bengals delay retail sportsbook due to NFL rules

Let’s start with the biggest outlier of the group: the Cincinnati Bengals.

The NFL bans in-stadium betting during games, and the Bengals decided not to apply for a retail sportsbook license because of the rule. The team would be all but guaranteed to receive approval to open a sportsbook either inside or near Paycor Stadium.

A team representative told the Ohio Casino Control Commission on Sept. 21 that its decision not to apply for a retail license was an “NFL-policy related decision.”

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

Betfred Sportsbook has partnered with the Cincinnati Bengals for access to the Ohio online sportsbook market. Despite the lack of access to a brick-and-mortar sportsbook at Paycor Stadium, fans in attendance will be able to use the Betfred app to place bets during games.

It’s worth noting that the Arizona Cardinals recently opened a sportsbook slightly off stadium grounds to get around these rules.

Cleveland Browns to open in-stadium retail sportsbook

On the other hand, the Cleveland Browns have announced plans to open a Bally’s-branded lounge inside FirstEnergy Stadium.

That sportsbook will not be allowed to operate during Browns home games but will otherwise be open year-round. The lounge could still be open to fans who want to place bets using the Bally Bet Sportsbook app.

In a statement announcing the partnership with Bally’s, Haslam Sports Group Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Dave Jenkins said:

“As we continue to work closely with sports betting regulators in our state to ensure a responsible and timely launch, we are excited and confident that our partnership with Bally’s will ultimately offer industry-leading benefits to fans throughout Cleveland and Ohio.”

MLB, NBA to offer more in-stadium options than NFL

According to cleveland.com, both the Cleveland Cavaliers NBA franchise and Cleveland Guardians baseball team plan to open retail sportsbooks inside their stadiums.

There will be different processes for betting at these new locations, however.

MLB allows betting on game days, but fans will not be allowed to enter the Guardians’ Bet365 sportsbook from the ballpark.

The Cincinnati Reds have also announced plans to open their retail sportsbook inside Great American Ball Park. The BetMGM Sportsbook will open inside the space currently housing the Machine Room restaurant on the northeast side of the stadium. The sportsbook will not be accessible from ticketed areas of the stadium but will be open year-round.

The Cavaliers, on the other hand, will offer ticketed fans access to their Caesars-branded sportsbook even if they entered the arena to watch in-person, according to cleveland.com.

The NBA restricts teams from opening retail sportsbooks in common areas, but there will be access to the sportsbook area from within Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse. The Cavaliers’ sportsbook will also be open year-round.

NHL, MLS offer in-stadium sports betting

The Columbus Blue Jackets will have the option of opening their Fanatics retail sportsbook inside Nationwide Arena. Multiple NHL franchises currently allow in-person betting on game days, including the Washington Capitals and Chicago Blackhawks.

Similarly, Major League Soccer does not restrict in-stadium sportsbooks to non-game days. DC United opened its sportsbook inside Audi Field this summer.

FC Cincinnati has plans to open a retail sportsbook in the vicinity of TQL Stadium. FC Cincinnati is developing property near the stadium and will eventually construct its own retail sportsbook nearby. The team partnered with Superbook Sports on both its retail sportsbook and mobile app.

Stadium sportsbooks on the way to Ohio

The following partnerships have been announced for retail sportsbooks at Ohio’s professional sports stadiums and arenas. We will find out more details in the coming weeks about each location:

  • Cleveland Browns (Bally Bet Sportsbook)
  • Cleveland Cavaliers (Caesars Sportsbook)
  • Cleveland Guardians (Fanatics Sportsbook)
  • Columbus Blue Jackets (Fanatics Sportsbook)
  • Columbus Crew (Tipico Sportsbook)
  • FC Cincinnati (Superbook)
  • Cincinnati Reds (BetMGM Sportsbook)
  • Cincinnati Bengals (No retail sportsbook)
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Written by
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