Ohio regulators have granted SPIRE Institute a pair of sports betting licenses. The Ohio Casino Control Commission (OCCC) made the decision during its Nov. 16 meeting.
SPIRE is involved in a handful of different sides of the sports business. It hosts collegiate tournaments and also runs a sports research development lab.
That’s on top of SPIRE Academy, which is the flagship sports-focused high school the company runs.
A high school isn’t what you’d typically think of when it comes to gambling, but that didn’t stop SPIRE from trying to get in on the Ohio sports betting action.
SPIRE Institute sports betting
SPIRE was certainly one of the more unique companies to apply for a sports betting license.
SPIRE Academy is a specialized high school that focuses on athletic education. In a nutshell, it’s an academy for athletic prodigies such as NBA All-Star LaMelo Ball, who formerly attended the school.
The school enrolls under 100 students, but each receives daily athletic training on top of the typical prep school course load.
Snagging approval from the OCCC is a big win for SPIRE’s Ohio sports betting plans. The company now holds a Type A and Type B license in the state.
The company is using its Type A license to work with Out the Gate, a brand-new online sportsbook operator in Ohio.
However, it is not neglecting the in-person side of the business. SPIRE will use its Type B license to open a Las Vegas-style retail sportsbook at its athletic complex.
Betting on high school sports is not legal in the U.S., so a high school trying to open a sportsbook was an abnormal move. Despite that, placing the sportsbook at the complex provides some separation between the high school side of the company and gambling.
The commission has been working through the pile of applicants for the past few months. Ohio is entering the home stretch now that sports betting starts in less than two months.
Ohio sports betting launch approaching
Gamblers in Ohio will be able to bet on sports starting on Jan. 1, 2023. That’s the official launch date for legal betting in the state.
SPIRE can open for business on day one of gambling, so long as it can hit the final few regulatory checkmarks next month.
The OCCC still needs to confirm the final plans for sports betting applicants around the state. The commission essentially needs to compare notes with each sports betting company.
The OCCC already approved the preliminary plans for each applicant, but things can shift around quickly with so many companies building new facilities. Regulators just want to make sure that each applicant’s sportsbook matches the plans that they had already approved.
In order to take bets on Jan. 1, each sportsbook will need to have everything ready for final approval by Dec. 2. Each licensee will receive a visit from commission staff to verify the location’s equipment.
Since SPIRE received approval later than some other applicants, it might not be ready to take sports bets on the first day of gambling.
Regardless of when things open up, a SPIRE Institute sportsbook is on the way to Ohio. That’s in addition to Out the Gate’s online sportsbook, should the company receive its online sportsbook license in time.
SPIRE may have been a unique applicant in the state, but the company still managed win the licenses its needed. That will give Ohio gamblers a few more options to pick from once sports betting finally begins on Jan. 1.