Ohio Casino Control Commission Set to Announce Universal Start Date for Sports Betting on Wednesday
At the Ohio Casino Control Commission’s meeting on Wednesday, it’s expected that the Universal Start Date (USD) for sports betting will be announced. The Commission’s website already lists January 1, 2023, as the probable date, even though sports fans and bettors were hopeful for a launch date prior to the start of the upcoming NFL season.
Ohio Legislative Process
House Bill 29 was passed in both Ohio legislative chambers in December 2021 and was signed shortly after by Governor Mike DeWine. The Ohio Casino Control Commission is tasked with regulating the new industry in the state, including the handling of applications from hopeful operators. HB29 provides up to 25 online sports betting licenses through which licensees can partner with up to two sportsbook operators.
According to a spokesperson for the Commission, there are expected to be around 3,000 applications in the state. The Commission will begin processing applications for the first two groups of licenses on June 15, including online sportsbooks, brick-and-mortar sportsbooks, and self-service or clerk-operated terminals in establishments with liquor licenses.
Which Platforms will be Available?
FanDuel and DraftKings currently operate Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) platforms in the state and are expected to be among the first platforms in Ohio for online sports betting. Both companies are expected to pursue partnerships with professional sports franchises in the state.
Several significant platforms have existing footprints in Ohio – BetMGM Ohio can be linked through MGM Northfield Park, Caesars now owns Eldorado Gaming Scioto Downs, and Hard Rock Casino Cincinnati will make Hard Rock well-positioned for launching its online platform. Penn National owns the Hollywood Casino brand, which has four casino locations in Ohio, setting up Barstool well.
JACK Entertainment, an Ohio-based company that launched in 2009, owns and operates two properties in Cleveland and North Randall. JACK doesn’t have experience with mobile sports betting. Still, it now has a partnership with Kambi and launched its sports betting app last month with available wagering through free imaginary tokens.
A handful of sportsbooks already have partnerships with sports entities in preparation for Ohio’s market launch. The Cleveland Cavaliers will have market access agreements through Fubo Gaming and Caesars. The Cleveland Browns have a partnership with Bally’s Interactive. The PGA Tour has a collaboration with betPARX.
Any Hope for Sports Betting by the NFL Season?
On the Commission’s website, there is a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) section that explicitly states that sports betting won’t be available in Ohio in time for the start of the 2022 NFL regular season.
“No. Given the intricacies of the rule making process in Ohio and the number of licenses and investigations that the Commission must issue or undertake, the Universal Start Date is likely to be close to, if not exactly on, January 1, 2023,” the FAQ answer states.
There is also a 60-day deadline for all responsible gaming plans, facility plans, equipment testing, geolocation procedures, house rules, and required procedures to be submitted 60 days before the Universal Start Date. With that 60-day deadline, the turnaround is likely too significant for a launch before the start of the NFL season.