The launch of legal sports betting in Ohio is drawing near, but Buckeye State regulators have a few more licensing decisions to make before wagering gets underway.
On Wednesday, the Ohio Casino Control Commission is scheduled to consider four more licenses to operate online sports betting sites.
The three sportsbook operators are seeking permits to be a so-called "mobile management services provider" in Ohio, which would allow them to take bets on behalf of one of the state’s “proprietors.”
Digital Gaming Corp., the Betway-linked company, intends to work with the Belterra Park racino. Underdog, meanwhile, plans to partner with the Cincinnati Reds and Bally's with the Cleveland Browns.
The fourth license to be considered would be for Out The Gate Inc., a New Jersey-based gaming operator that aims to ally with the SPIRE Institute, a northeastern Ohio sports complex.
If the casino control commission approves the licenses for the four applicants, it would increase the number of licensed online sportsbook operators in Ohio to 20. Those operators will be poised to launch on the start date for legal sports betting in Ohio, which is January 1. Their launches will be in addition to the wagering that will begin at casinos, bars, and restaurants, among other retail and lottery locations.
A few laggards
However, as the chair of the control commission said recently, not every operator is prepared to go live on January 1. Some may take weeks or even months before they start accepting action in the Buckeye State.
Some of the more recent licensees may be among those that take their time in launching in Ohio. Underdog, for example, has yet to start offering sports betting anywhere at all but has already obtained a temporary license in Colorado to do so.
In the meantime, though, Ohioans should have a lot of choices for online sportsbooks. All of the major names, plus some smaller operators, should be ready to go on January 1, a day too late for Ohio State's college football playoff matchup against Georgia.
Still, there is not much time until the state’s universal start date and there is lots of work to do. Among other things, the Ohio Casino Control Commission will receive another update on the progress of the sports-betting launch on Wednesday, which will be a historically large undertaking for the state given its plan to start all forms of legal wagering at once.
“Our expansion is one of the largest in United States history,” Ohio Casino Control Commission Chair June Taylor said during the recent meeting of the National Council of Legislators from Gaming States.