15 Licensees Have Until June 30 To Launch Ohio Sportsbooks

Written By C.J. Pierre on December 6, 2023 - Last Updated on December 8, 2023
Picture of an hour glass for a story on the deadline to launch an Ohio sportsbook.

Sports betting in the Buckeye State is nearing its first anniversary. However, several operators still have not joined the party. Now, state regulators are tired of waiting.

The Ohio Casino Control Commission recently announced sports betting operators must launch by June 30, 2024. Then, the commission could revoke their licenses if they haven’t launched.

The decision came after the OCCC voted to extend a year-long deadline for approved licensees to begin their operations. In most cases, the original deadline was set for January 1, 2024, one year after the Ohio sports betting launch.

15 operators approved for Ohio sports betting have yet to launch

Regulators believe this extension will help create a level playing field for licensees that have been unable to launch. The decision isn’t surprising since some of the state’s pro sports franchises are among the licensees yet to begin operations. The Cleveland Browns, Cleveland Cavaliers and Cincinnati Reds are among the 15 licensees yet to find a sportsbook partner.

Additionally, the OCCC began fixing a drafting error in its “use it or lose it” regulations. The provisions ensure that those who gained sports gaming licenses in Ohio perform their roles in furthering the industry — an industry that generated $80.5 million in taxable revenue in its first ten months.

Due to various factors, the commission decided to give licensees more time to launch. Some factors included situations that were beyond the licensee’s control. As a result, it affected their ability to find suitable partners and launch in time for the original Jan. 1 deadline.

For example, the Cleveland Cavaliers initially partnered with Fubo Gaming for its online sports betting license. However, Fubo shut down its sportsbook operations in late 2022 after the partnership was in place.

That left the Cavs on their own. Even though the franchise opened a Caesars retail sportsbook, it still hasn’t found a partner for its online sportsbook. Meanwhile, 19 other licensees already have partners and have launched sportsbooks. Now, the Cavs and the other remaining 14 licensees have to find smaller operators to partner with.

Ohio may not be a desirable location for smaller operators

Having brands like the Browns, Cavaliers and Reds attached to sportsbooks may not be enough to entice operators to enter the Ohio market.

Like most states, the Buckeye State is dominated by two operators. FanDuel Ohio takes around 36% of the state handle, DraftKings Ohio gets another 32.8%. In other words, those two giants garner 68.8% of the market share.

That’s on top of what other legacy operators like BetMGM and Caesars are doing in the state. ESPN BET, bet365 and Fanatics are also jockeying for position in the second tier. Even though the market is one of the largest in the U.S., Ohio isn’t friendly for smaller operators.

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C.J. Pierre

C.J. Pierre is a Lead Writer at PlayOhio. He has been covering news and sports for over a decade for both online and TV broadcasts. He was born and raised in Minneapolis, MN and is an alum of Minnesota State University: Moorhead. He recently dove into tribal casino, sports betting and online gambling news. He also covered the launch of sports betting in Arizona. C.J. has experience as a reporter and videographer and has covered high school, college and professional sports throughout his career, most notably following Arizona Cardinals, Phoenix Suns, Minnesota Vikings and North Dakota State University football.

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