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Ohio Gambling Update – Where Things Stand

Ohio Gambling Update - Where Things Stand

Legal sports betting launches within Ohio’s borders on Jan. 1, 2023. The finish line seems off in the distance, but it will come into clear focus before Ohioans realize it. In the meantime, prospective bettors have the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the state’s upcoming sports betting landscape.

Ohio law allows for up to 25 mobile and 40 retail sportsbook licenses, so new Ohio bettors will have a multitude of choices — quite literally — at their fingertips.

Among the most important details to those in the Buckeye State is that wagering is allowed on college sports. Considering the degree to which the Ohio State Buckeyes move the needle, this is music to the ears of future Ohio bettors.

Applications Are Rolling In

The Ohio Casino Control Commission (OCCC) is tasked with reviewing applications and issuing licenses to prospective sports betting operators.

The first of Ohio’s two application windows closed on July 15. A long list of applicants tossed their names into the mix. Ohioans will recognize industry heavyweights such as DraftKings Sportsbook and FanDuel Sportsbook among others.

There are numerous potential entrants Ohio bettors will learn about in the coming months as well. Some of these brands — PointsBet for example — are renowned sports betting brands establishing themselves in US markets. Others, however, are banking on their brand recognition in other sports business areas carrying into Ohio’s sports betting industry.

Underdog Fantasy Sportsbook is one particular example eyeing entrance into Ohio’s borders. Underdog is following a similar fantasy-to-betting progression to what both DraftKings and FanDuel accomplished.

One of the theoretical advantages a brand like Underdog brings to Ohio’s betting landscape is an existing sports-crazed user base. Daily fantasy sports (DFS) lends itself to the type of deep analytical research that translates to sports betting.

The second application window is for mobile operators vying for a second license, offered by a casino and professional sports team. This window closes on August 15.

How Will Ohio Distribute Sports Betting Revenue

There are two areas in particular where Ohio will allocate its sports betting revenue once legal sports betting launches.

The primary area is the Sports Gaming Profits Education Fund (SGPEF). Ninety-eight percent of betting tax revenue is ticketed for the SGPEF, of which, 50% will go toward the development of extracurricular programs for kindergarten through 12th grade. Ohio’s general assembly will determine how the remaining 50% is allocated for K-12 needs.

From an objective standpoint, there’s a lot to like about funds being funneled into the school system. However, Ohio will also actively address the pitfalls that can arise among gamblers.

The remaining 2% of Ohio’s sports betting tax revenue will go to the Problem Sports Gaming Fund (PSGF). Specific programs have yet to be developed, but a nine-member committee is tasked with studying problem gambling to determine what programs will be most effective in Ohio.

Professional Sports Teams Diving Into Legal Gambling Mix

Ohio has a rich sports culture with passionate fan bases spanning the five major sports leagues. It’s no surprise that Ohio’s pro teams wasted little time aligning with the state’s developing legal gambling industry.

The Cleveland Cavaliers of the National Basketball Association forged a partnership with Caesars in February 2022, their third in the sports gambling space. Caesars Sportsbook will serve as the team’s official sports betting partner. As part of the pact, Caesars will open a 10,335 square-foot sportsbook inside Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.

Chris Holdren, Co-President of Caesars Digital expressed excitement and optimism about the partnership.

“We’re ready to welcome Ohio sports fans into the Caesars Sportsbook Empire, while also making history with our second sportsbook at an NBA arena.”

Shifting from the hardwood to the pitch, the MLS Columbus Crew named Tipico its exclusive sports betting partner.

The deal provides entitlement rights to prominent Crew assets — i.e. Tipico Beer Garden and Tipico Club — in addition to branding throughout Field, the Crew’s venue that opened in July 2021.

The OCCC has heavy lifting ahead as the final details of Ohio’s sports betting launch are finalized. Prospective bettors, from recreational to serious, will have plenty to look forward to when Ohio’s legal sports betting industry arrives. Ohioans simply need to exercise some more patience — easier said than done — before retail and mobile sports betting options are readily available.

Joshua Buckley is a contributor for NEO Sports Insiders. Along with award-winning experience as a sports editor in Alabama and Texas, he has also spent time in public relations for the tourism and blood banking industries. Joshua is co-host of "Whole Lotta Wolves," the only U.S.-based Wolverhampton Wanders FC podcast.

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