CINCINNATI — It’s the first day of legal sports betting in Ohio, and Cincinnati is having the kind of sleepy, overcast day befitting New Year’s Day.
There’s no glaring sun, so even if the remnants of last night’s New Year’s Eve celebrations are still clouding your brain, it’s OK to leave the sunglasses at home.
It’s also a relatively balmy 53 degrees in the early afternoon, almost perfect weather for a leisurely stroll through Cincinnati’s hip and historic Over-the-Rhine neighborhood near the heart of the city’s downtown business district.
At Taft’s Ale House, a beautifully cool, coolly beautiful brewpub located inside a former 19th-century church, the mood is perfectly chill, with a handful of people grabbing some lunch in the venue’s main restaurant.
But venture downstairs to Taft’s basement bar, there’s some low-key excitement in the air.
Today is Ohio bettors’ first opportunity to place sports bets not only on the 16 betting apps that have been approved to operate in the state, but also at the 12 in-person retail sportsbooks that were fully cleared to begin taking bets on Jan. 1.
Ohio’s (huge launch) of sports betting drew attention to sportsbooks big and small. Certainly one of the most unique sportsbooks to open in Ohio is the SuperBook inside the cozy downstairs bar of Taft’s Ale House, which began taking bets at its five betting kiosks when Taft’s opened on Jan. 1 at 11:30 a.m.
It’s definitely the only retail sportsbook in Ohio to open in a church, former or otherwise.
SuperBook retail spot just blocks aways from FC Cincinnati stadium
The sportsbook at Taft’s Ale House is a partnership between SuperBook Sportsbook Ohio and their market-access partner, MLS team FC Cincinnati, whose TQL Stadium sits just a few blocks west of Taft’s.
SuperBook Sports, which also began taking bets through its Ohio-specific sportsbook app and website at midnight Jan. 1, got into the sports betting biz back in 1986 when it opened its first retail spot in Las Vegas. With noted oddsmakers Jay Kornegay and John Murray leading the way, SuperBook’s reputation for fair odds and early betting lines has grown as the company has expanded.
Ohio is the seventh state in which SuperBook operates; it’s also available in Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New York, Tennessee and Iowa.
Just a few minutes before the 1 p.m. slate of games on Jan. 1, there’s no wait to use one of the five SuperBook betting kiosks at Taft’s Ale House, with a slow and steady stream of curious bettors checking things out and placing wagers at a leisurely pace.
Taft’s provides a cozy, cool space for SuperBook users to bet and watch sports
To place a bet, players need to show ID (you must be 21 or up to wager) before entering a small open room just across from the L-shaped bar which features the five betting machines side by side with a window to claim winnings just across from them.
Staff let everyone there know they were there to help if anyone needed assistance using the machines, which are SuperBook branded and feature QR codes directing users to SuperBook online. Players can insert cash or swipe a debit or credit card to make bets on the machines.
It’s a really comfortable space and the bar area is really inviting, with dark brown wood and dimmed but not dark lighting.
On opening day at around 1 p.m. there were only a couple dozen customers (as well as some SuperBook reps handing out swag and more info), so it wasn’t cramped at all.
The atmosphere is great for placing a bet and then grabbing a drink and checking out all of the sports action on the numerous big-screen TVs that wrap around the entire bar and betting area.
SuperBook at Taft’s provides unique, comfortable gaming experience
Two days before SuperBook’s Ohio launch, PlayOhio caught up with Kristin Mackey, Superbook’s vice president of marketing, to ask a few questions about what Ohio users can expect from SuperBook Sports.
PlayOhio: Were there any logistical difficulties opening the sportsbook at a somewhat smaller space there at Taft’s Ale House?
Kristin Mackey: Taft’s has been a phenomenal partner in helping us to really uncover what the space opportunities were. And it is unique, to be such a small area, but I think really we were able to put together a very workable yet maintain the existing historical type of branding inside Taft’s today. We didn’t do anything to encroach on the history and heritage that they have in downtown Cincinnati. I think it all came together very flawlessly.
PlayOhio: How do you think the SuperBook Sportsbook at Taft’s will stand out from other retail sportsbooks in the Cincinnati/Hamilton County area?
Kristin Mackey: I think that SuperBook, the retail location in Taft’s, is going to stand out really well. It’s very unique. It’s somewhere where people already feel comfortable to go and watch games and spend time with their friends and really be entertained by the idea of sports. And now you can bet there, too.
We want to enhance the entertainment, not be the only focal point. And I think Taft’s really gives that opportunity.
PlayOhio: What can Ohio bettors look forward to in the app and at the retail sportsbook?
Kristin Mackey: We pride ourselves on having the best odds … that’s something that our 100-plus years of experience with our bookmakers allows us to do.
The other thing is that we’re early with lines. So first out of the gate where you’re going to see lines coming out is from SuperBook. As early as Sunday afternoon you will get the next week’s NFL lines. We’re some of the first (lines) to go out on golf tournaments or on big UFC and MMA matches. We’re earlier than most of the other books out there.
And then that human factor also helps set us apart. We have somebody looking at our odds 24/7 behind the terminal, so it’s not just going head to head against the computer.
SuperBook a good match with partner FC Cincinnati
PlayOhio: Can you tell us more about the partnership with FC Cincinnati?
Kristin Mackey: We’re very excited about the opportunities we have for in-stadium branding and also working with FC Cincinnati on providing experiences and different things for our patrons and their patrons.
We definitely are riding with a very winning horse there. It just made a lot of sense for our brands to come together. When you look at the heritage of the Superbook brand and you look at the future of the FC Cincinnati brand, it really melded together very well to create one of the best partnerships that there could be in this Ohio launch.
PlayOhio: Is the plan for SuperBook Sportsbook to be at Taft’s long term or will it move to FC Cincinnati’s stadium at some point?
Kristin Mackey: Our plan is to make the most of our Taft’s partnership. We are in a long-term relationship with FC Cincinnati. Right now we’re very happy where we’re at with Taft. Longer term plans will continue to evolve as the business evolves. But right now we’re really happy with our relationship with Taft’s.
PlayOhio: Is there anything else you think the bettors of Ohio should know about SuperBook?
Kristin Mackey: I just want to emphatically encourage people to follow us on social media, @SuperBookSports and @SuperBookOH, to really stay in the know. We really have a lot of great boosts that go up daily, so stay tuned for news on that, and then also follow us at superbook.com, where we give out a lot of great content, some of it Ohio specific. If you follow us on social media and the website you’ll stay in the loop on any new promotional offers, content and great boosts and future odds coming out.