Golf, Yes, Gatorade, No: What Sports Can You Bet on in Ohio?

Ohio regulators have laid out the list of acceptable wagering options for when legal sports betting begins in the state on January 1, and there's a lot to work with.

Nov 21, 2022 • 16:08 ET • 3 min read
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The Buckeye State will have a lot of wagering options when sports betting in Ohio officially launches in the New Year. 

But betting markets that are popular around major events like the Super Bowl will be prohibited, such as trying to guess whether the opening coin toss will be heads or tails or if the winning coach will get doused with blue Gatorade. 

“The [Ohio Casino Control Commission] will not approve wagers involving coin flips, the color of Gatorade, or bands/performers, regardless of the sporting event,” said Jessica Franks, director of communications for the OCCC, in an email to Covers.

That said, there will still be a lot that residents of the Buckeye State can wager on when legal sports betting begins in Ohio on Jan. 1, 2023. Indeed, Ohio Casino Control Commission Executive Director Matt Schuler estimated to commissioners last week that the regulator's current catalogue covers about 95% of the leagues Ohioans will want to bet on anyway.

Members of the commission, which will oversee retail and online sports betting sites, were presented last week with the initial roster of acceptable wagering options.

The list is part of the regulatory work to launch event wagering in the state, and the catalogue will be flexible, as operators and professional sports leagues will be able to request changes. 

“This initial set of wagers and events is just that — the initial set,” the commission said in an email to stakeholders last week. “Proprietors and services providers can continue to request additional items for inclusion in the catalogue… through the Commission’s web-based catalogue.”

Companies and leagues have until late December to request tweaks to the wagering catalogue and to ensure their systems are ready to make the right markets available to bettors. Any request will have to abide by certain criteria for an acceptable wager in Ohio as well.  

“For example, no requests should be submitted for any of the following: non-sporting events (e.g. awards shows), random determinations (e.g. coin flips), or non-athlete performance criteria (e.g. color of sports drink),” the commission told stakeholders. “If these events or wagers are submitted, the Commission will deny them.”

A lot to work with

But what’s approved so far is plenty. 

The wagering catalogue is broken up into two main groups, the first being approved sports governing bodies for which operators can offer any betting market that meets the commission's criteria. 

Approved sports governing bodies for generally approved wagers include all of the major U.S. leagues, including Major League Baseball,  the National Basketball Association, and the National Football League, as well as a variety of college sports.

The criteria, meanwhile, include that the wager is based on provable statistical results, such as a box score, that it is based on the performance of a single athlete or group of players, and that it is based on the result of an outcome happening on the field of play. 

And the approved sports governing bodies for generally approved wagers go beyond just the Big Four, covering more than 80 entities. Also on the list are the Australian Football League, EuroLeague basketball, the Indian Premier League (of cricket), and, for esports aficionados, the Call of Duty League.

Ohio’s other major group of acceptable wagers are bets that have been specifically approved by regulators. Those include outcomes connected to awards and drafts, such as the winner of the NFL's MVP award, or the number of running backs taken in the first round of the NFL Draft.

There are more than 40 of those specific wagers so far, although more could be added. 

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And then there are the wagers that are not allowed, including anything to do with the "statistical actions of coaches, officials, or referees," such as how many penalty flags are thrown in an NFL game. Ohioans won't be able to bet on whether a player will be injured either, or any other "inherently objectionable" outcome.

The casino control commission's quest for integrity has also led it to ban wagering on halftime performances, coin flips, "equipment characteristics (sports drinks, etc.)," pre-recorded events, and high school sports.

“Our north star on this is integrity,” Schuler said last week. “And we do not want to launch sports gaming in any way where there is an eyebrow raised.”

The full catalogue of acceptable wagering in Ohio can be found here

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