The First Two US Sportsbook Operators File for Ohio License

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Sports fans in the Buckeye State are counting down the days until legal betting goes live. State gaming officials continue to work through the regulation process with Jan. 1. 2023 set as the official launch date.

Earlier this month, the Ohio Casino Control Commission (OCC) started accepting license applications from US sportsbook operators. Beating everyone to the punch, BetMGM and PointsBet became the first two books to apply. The OCC plans to release the names of additional applicants each Friday on a weekly basis.

Under Ohio law, the gaming regulations allow for as many as 25 online sportsbooks offering mobile betting apps. Also part of the law is a provision for 40 retail locations with legal sports betting. Included in the retail sector are stadiums and arenas for in-state professional sports teams.

The OCC also stated that BetMGM had applied for a “Management Services Provider” license in the state. This is part of the process to operate a retail sportsbook in Ohio. The next step for both of these operators is to find a proprietor partner to actually enter the Ohio market. This list includes land-based casinos and racinos as well as in-state professional sports teams.

Bally’s Corporation is expected to apply for a sports betting license. The Rhode Island-based casino gaming company has already formed a partnership with the NFL’s Cleveland Browns. Other pro teams in the state include the NFL’s Cincinnati Bengals, the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers, MLB’s Cincinnati Reds and Cleveland Guardians and the NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets.

The third sector of legal sports betting in Ohio will consist of stand-alone betting kiosks in bars, restaurants and bowling alleys. These locations will be run in conjunction with an operating partner.

The overall availability of legal sports betting heightens Ohio’s potential to become a major Midwest sports betting market. That group already includes Illinois, Indiana, Iowa and Michigan.

Ohio lawmakers first legalized sports betting in the state towards the end of December, 2021. Governor Mike DeWine quickly signed that legislation into law. Proponents of legal sports betting had pushed for a launch prior to the start of the new football season in early September. However, regulators felt more comfortable in pushing the launch date back to Jan. 1, 2023 given the process at hand.

Most of the added time will go towards processing the large number of expected license applications. The OCC’s goal is to have a unified launch across all sectors of the industry. BetMGM and PointsBet may have gotten the early jump in the application process. Yet, they will be far from being alone come New Year’s Day, 2023.

Written by Dave Schwab, our US Sports Betting Industry Expert.

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