These Unique Businesses Could Be Opening Ohio Sportsbooks Soon

Written By Jake Garza on August 18, 2022
The Strange Companies That Could Be Opening Sportsbooks In Ohio

A wide variety of Ohio businesses are lining up to get in on the state’s budding sports betting industry.

Most applications have been filed at this point, and all sorts of interesting businesses are throwing their hats in the ring.

Some of the more surprising businesses looking for an Ohio sports betting license include a fireworks store and even a high school.

These businesses might not all win licenses when the dust settles, but it’s worth checking out some of the most intriguing options that could be offering sports betting in the Buckeye State.

Sports betting from Phantom Fireworks?

Anyone who has done any serious driving around the U.S. has probably seen a billboard for Phantom Fireworks. The company serves the pyrotechnic needs of Americans across the country, and now it wants in on Ohio sports betting.

Phantom Fireworks is certainly one of the more unique companies to submit a betting application. Phantom is hoping to be up and running in time for the first day of wagering on Jan. 1, 2023.

The company applied for a Type B license with Ohio’s gambling regulators. That would allow Phantom to open a Las Vegas-style brick-and-mortar sportsbook in downtown Youngstown.

The game plan for the company is to attach its sportsbook to Covelli Centre, the local stadium in town. Phantom Fireworks owns the Youngstown Phantoms hockey team, which plays their home games at the arena.

Honky tonk Ohio sports betting

Another one of Ohio’s interesting sports betting applicants is Lori’s Roadhouse in Butler County just outside of Cincinnati.

The honky tonk venue plans to use its Type B license to open a retail sportsbook of its own, assuming Ohio approves its application.

However, some businesses are concerned with the application process itself.

According to Ohio’s sports betting laws, each county in the state can only offer a limited number of sportsbooks. That number is based on the county’s population, but even larger areas can only have a maximum of five sportsbooks.

Since there’s no guarantee that applicants will win a license, that might deter some businesses from sending in the $25,000 upfront application fee.

That isn’t stopping Roadhouse Co-Owner Greg Fisher, who has his fingers crossed now that the honky tonk has filed its paperwork.

“The thing is you’re not guaranteed, you either win or you lose it’s one or the other, you’re not guaranteed to get it. We did everything that they asked and probably went above and beyond. The thing is we’re ready, if we’re given license as long as our host is ready we can be effective Jan. 1.”

Fisher’s concerns might not end up coming to fruition, which is great news for Lori’s Roadhouse.

At least for now, the honky tonk is the only company from Butler county that has applied. In other words, the Roadhouse doesn’t have any competition for the county’s sports betting license.

It’s an envious position that some of the other unique applicants would love to find themselves in.

Harry Buffalo and Ravencrest compete for Cleveland

Two sports betting hopefuls from Cuyahoga County would love to trade places with Lori’s Roadhouse. Cuyahoga is home to Cleveland, which has multiple companies vying for its Type B licenses.

The county sports a population of over 1.2 million people, which means that Cuyahoga can offer a maximum a five retail sportsbooks.

Harry Buffalo and Ravencrest Partners are two of the companies hoping to make the cut.

Harry Buffalo is looking to add a sportsbook to its existing restaurant and bar near Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse. Ravencrest, on the other hand, plans to build a new 10,000-square-foot sports gaming facility at Flats East Bank.

Both companies are staying optimistic despite the odds being stacked against them.

Since the county can only open up to five sportsbooks, it will be difficult for either company to beat other big time Cleveland applicants like the Guardians, Cavaliers, Browns and two JACK Entertainment properties (Jack Cleveland Casino and JACK Thistledown Racino).

Essentially, Harry Buffalo and Ravencrest are both longshot applicants in Cleveland. There’s no way to know if Ohio will approve them over the competition until the state processes all applications over the next couple of months.

High school applies for sports betting

Ohioans won’t be able to bet on high school sports, but that hasn’t stopped SPIRE Academy from applying for a sports betting license.

SPIRE is a specialized high school that focuses on athletic education — basically, an academy for athletic prodigies. NBA standout LaMelo Ball attended the school, and the institution frequently houses Olympians and e-sports standouts.

A high school opening up a sportsbook is certainly a strange proposition, but SPIRE is hoping that its unique situation will set it apart from the pack.

The high school is only one wing of the larger institution.

SPIRE is also a sports complex that hosts college athletic competitions. The property recently held events for the Big Ten, Atlantic 10 and Northeast Conference.

Thousands of people visit SPIRE every year, and the plan is to get those visitors betting on events. After all, if you arrive at the complex to watch college sports, then why not bet on the action at the facility’s sportsbook? That’s the logic that SPIRE is hoping will pan out for its application.

If Ohio ends up approving SPIRE’s plans, then that would certainly make the school one of the more unique sports betting options in the state.

Betting kiosks in Ohio

Sports betting kiosks will be a huge part of the future of gambling in Ohio.

The state has already pre-approved over 1,200 locations for hosting kiosks next year. All sorts of small businesses around the state will be offering betting.

That list of Type C applicants includes some places that might not usually come to mind when you think of gambling. That includes places such as:

  • Kroger grocery stores
  • Local bars
  • Restaurants
  • Bowling alleys
  • Golf courses
  • Gas stations

Betting on sports while shopping for food or filling your gas tank will be a new experience for Ohio residents. It’s the type of thing that will start to feel normal once sports betting is up and running in the state.

Gaming officials in the state will certainly have their hands full sorting through Ohio’s litany of applications. At the very least, bettors in the Buckeye State could have plenty of unique sportsbook options to pick from in the near future.

Photo by Shutterstock
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Jake Garza

Jake Garza is a US Gambling Industry Analyst for Catena Media. He specializes in Midwest sports betting and casino content. Prior to covering the legal gambling industry, he spent time as a professional sports writer, reporting on teams such as the Cincinnati Bengals, Indianapolis Colts and Indiana Pacers. Garza is currently working as a Staff Writer for PlayOhio, with previous stops at other well-known brands such as PlayIllinois, PlayMichigan and PlayIndiana. He has been covering the gambling industry since 2019, and currently works with a team of other journalists to provide comprehensive coverage of all things Ohio gambling related.

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