Can Prime Sports’ Unique Sports Betting Model Survive In Ohio?

Written By Adam Hensley on March 7, 2024
A picture of a survival sign for a story about Prime Sports' struggle in the Ohio market.

Prime Sports offers something most sportsbooks do not: take action from anyone. 

Most operators limit the amount that can be bet to protect their bottom lines and keep their margins intact. Prime Sports is looking to change that model.

The question is, is it sustainable?

Prime Sports takes on all comers

Prime Sports became the 20th online sportsbook in Ohio when it launched last September, just nine months after Ohio sports betting began.

The online sportsbook is currently only available in Ohio. According to its website, New Jersey is “coming soon.”

What differentiates Prime Sports from competitors like DraftKings Ohio or FanDuel Ohio is that it does not impose betting restrictions on customers. Every bettor can wager up to the maximum amount.

Most sportsbooks try to maximize profitability by limiting ‘sharp’ bettors

Most sportsbooks follow a similar model. Once an operator deems certain sports bettors as “sharps,” the sportsbook often limits their wagers’ size. In other words, if you’re a good bettor, sportsbooks don’t want you to bet with them. 

It’s become so commonplace that prominent figures in the sports betting world voiced their complaints on social media. 

For example, professional gambler and former director of quantitative research and development for the Dallas Mavericks, Haralabos Voulgaris, called out former NBA player J.J. Redick on X in late December. Redick posted a promotion for sponsor DraftKings.

“Not picking on JJ but DK is just one of a number of books that markets and sells the dream that you can win big betting on sports. They are required to have a problem gambling disclaimer – the reality is they are highly unlikely to kick out a ‘problem gambler,’ but they will immediately boot or limit someone with a pulse who is actually able to win,” Voulgaris tweeted.

Later that same day, another X user shared a screenshot of them attempting to place a futures bet on Philadelphia 76ers star Joel Embiid to win the NBA MVP award. The wager had +350 odds. The user was attempting to place a $100 bet, but DraftKings would not let him. A notification read in red lettering under the bet slip: “Max wager $13.44,”

It’s something bettors are becoming frustrated with. Prime is looking to capture those bettors.

Prime Sports openly accepts ‘sharps’

This is where Prime Sports differentiates itself from the rest. The sportsbook won’t limit “sharp” bettors. The sportsbook allows everyone to wager up to the maximum amount, no matter how good they are at gambling. Prime didn’t hide it either. The company touted its unique business model when it launched in Ohio.

“We provide our members with a premium sports betting experience. All our members are guaranteed the right to wager up to the maximum amount on every betting market, so you never have to settle for less,” the Prime Sportsbook website read. 

At the time of Prime’s arrival in Ohio, the sportsbook market was already crowded. Ohio’s industry featured all the industry titans. It’s incredibly hard for a startup sportsbook to cement itself in an established market, especially given FanDuel and DraftKings’ domination.

But Prime’s model of not limiting bettors was something different, Prime Sports Executive Chairman Joe Brennan Jr. told Sports Handle last year.

“A sharp dollar and a square dollar are both dollars.”

They may both buy groceries the same. But the Sharp’s money is harder to win. The business model comes at a steep cost. Look at Prime’s monthly revenue numbers since it entered the Buckeye State.

Month Handle Revenue Hold %
September $366,001$12,057 3.2%
October $2,316,643$66,1532.8%
November $5,811,983$12,550 0.2%
December $4,457,367 $140,277 3.1%
January $9,703,293-$65,063 -0.6%
Totals $22,655,287 $165,974 0.7%

Is this a successful business model?

Prime’s operating model limits its margins. Just look at the hold percentage.

By taking on all comers, Prime is lowering its edge against the bettors. As a result, the total revenue will fluctuate wildly. After less than five full months of operations, Prime’s hold percentage is less than 1%. 

It’s great for bettors, but from a company perspective, there’s much more risk. Only time will tell if Prime’s unique model will work in Ohio. The online sportsbook remains in the bottom tier of operators in the state.

The sportsbook will not surpass FanDuel or DraftKings in revenue anytime soon, but that’s not really the goal. Prime has a chance to make a name for itself with its uniqueness.

By operating only in Ohio, it can test and retest its system to see if a healthy profit can be made and sustained.

Photo by PlayOhio
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Adam Hensley

Adam Hensley is a journalist with experience covering online sports betting and gambling across Catena Media. His byline has appeared in the Associated Press, Sports Illustrated and sites within the USA Today Network.

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