The start of legal sports betting in Ohio on January 1 will be a big deal.
With all due respect to Kansas, Maryland, and other recently launched sports-betting states, Ohio has a hefty population, rich sports culture, and ambitious rollout plan that commands a lot of attention. And, when the calendar flips from New Year’s Eve to New Year’s Day, Ohioans will have multiple ways to wager.
For starters, Ohio intends to launch retail and online sports betting sites all on the same date, January 1. That means residents ages 21 and up will have online sportsbooks to start wagering with on New Year’s Day, as well as the possibility of visiting a brick-and-mortar sportsbook at a casino or a betting kiosk at a bar or restaurant.
“January 1 will represent the largest expansion of gaming in Ohio’s history and the largest ever simultaneous launch of sports gaming in the United States,” the Ohio Casino Control Commission says on its website.
So, with such a momentous event oh-so-close, there will be a lot going on. Thankfully, Covers has you, uh, covered, with what you need to know about the official start of sports betting in Ohio.
How did we get here?
House Bill 29 was passed by the legislature in 2021 and signed into law by Gov. Mike DeWine in December of that same year. The legislation legalized sports betting through entities that are licensed and regulated by the Ohio Casino Control Commission.
The same law required the executive director of the OCCC to set a "universal start date" for sports betting in the state no later than Jan. 1, 2023, which is the day the regulator ultimately chose.
Who can bet?
People who are 21 or older and physically present in Ohio.
What bets can be made?
A lot. The Ohio Casino Control Commission laid out its initial event and wager catalogue in November that has three basic wager types: generally approved, requiring special approval, and forbidden.
The forbidden wager types include "statistical actions of coaches, officials, or referees," such as penalty flags thrown during a game. Also banned is wagering on "inherently objectionable outcomes," such as injuries, as well as halftime performances or national anthems before a game.
Betting on the coin flip of the Super Bowl or otherwise is also prohibited, as is wagering on the color of Gatorade that may be dunked on a coach. Furthermore, betting on grade school or high school sports is not allowed.
Aside from that, though, the casino control commission has a fairly comprehensive list of things on which people can bet. Generally approved wagers are those put on by legitimate sports governing bodies, such as the NFL or NBA, and based on statistics that can be proven by a box score or otherwise. Those wagers must be based on the performance of athletes and the outcomes on the field of play.
This means a bunch of bets are possible, as the OCCC's approved sports governing bodies range from the Australian Football League to the Xfinity Series of NASCAR. And spreads, moneylines, player props, parlays, and more are all possible given the state’s criteria.
Lastly, there are wagers that require specific approval, such as awards and draft outcomes. As of Friday, there were at least 45 such betting markets approved, including most valuable player awards and some NFL Draft offerings.
Does this mean I can bet on the Peach Bowl?
Well, no. Not unless the College Football Playoff matchup on December 31 between Georgia and Ohio State takes so long to play that it crosses over into January 1. If that happens, you could be able to live bet the game.
However, Ohio regulators were adamant they need every possible moment to get ready for their big day. A big game for the Buckeyes isn't prompting them to move up the start time.
So who will be taking bets on January 1?
Plenty of folks.
The Ohio Casino Control Commission has been busy approving licenses for companies that want to take wagers at the earliest possible moment in the Buckeye State. That includes permits that have been conditionally approved for 20 online sportsbook operators, most of which intend to be taking bets ASAP. They include:
- Barstool Sportsbook
- Caesars Sportsbook
- Hard Rock Sportsbook
- SuperBook Sports
Where can I find out about the best sign-up offers these sportsbooks are offering?
What if I want to place a bet in person?
Ohio lawmakers and regulators have you covered there as well. Under the state’s sports-betting law, there can be as many as 40 brick-and-mortar sportsbooks in the state, at least several of which will be open on January 1.
For example, Hard Rock Casino Cincinnati will have notorious baseball legend Pete Rose place the first bet at its new sportsbook at around 12:01 a.m. on January 1, after which others can do the same. Other casinos and racinos in the state are planning to be ready to take action on New Year’s Day, including MGM Northfield Park near Cleveland and Scioto Downs in Columbus.
While not everyone will be ready to take wagers on January 1, the Ohio Casino Control Commission has approved in-person sports betting permits for 22 entities, including the operators of other gaming facilities and professional sports venues. Among those with retail sports betting licenses:
- JACK Cleveland Casino
- the Pro Football Hall of Fame Village
- Hollywood Casino Columbus
- Muirfield Village Golf Club
- the Cleveland Browns, Columbus Blue Jackets, and Cincinnati Reds
Hundreds of restaurants, bars, and other businesses are in line to offer sports betting via lottery-linked kiosks. Yes, hundreds. On September 21, for instance, the Ohio Casino Control Commission licensed 311 entities to act as hosts of sports-betting kiosks, such as AJ's Franklin Tavern in Franklin and Zeppe's Tavern & Pizzeria in Bedford Heights.
Not all of those locations are ready for wagering yet, though. The Ohio Lottery suggested on December 23 that there could be more than 50 locations with kiosks to start, with more to come in the weeks and months that follow.
However, wagering via the lottery kiosks will be more limited than what you get with mobile sportsbooks, as they will allow betting only on point spreads, totals, and moneylines. Parlays will be restricted to four legs as well.
The lottery has a webpage that will list the locations with kiosks.
What if I don’t want to bet? Or what if I want help to stop betting?
There is a 24/7 problem gambling helpline that can be reached by calling 1-800-589-9966 or texting 4HOPE to 741741. The Ohio Casino Control Commission and Ohio Lottery also offer a program that allows people to ban themselves from casinos, racinos, and sports betting for one year, five years, or their lifetime. It can be found here.
How much is the state getting from all of this gambling?
Ohio is imposing a 10% tax on net revenue from sports betting done online and at brick-and-mortar sportsbooks.
A February 2022 fiscal note from the Ohio Legislative Service Commission forecast that legalizing and taxing sports gaming will raise “several tens of millions of dollars per year” when the market matures. For the state’s 2023 and 2024 fiscal years, the commission projected tax revenue would be around $7 million and $24 million, respectively.
Research firm Vixio has also forecast that gross gaming revenue from sports betting in Ohio will top $500 million in 2023, which would be subject to state tax as well. That suggests revenue could tick up even higher in the years to come.
There are also licensing fees that must be paid, such as $1 million to act as a mobile management services provider for a professional sports team, which comes with a $250,000-a-year renewal fee. The commission's Legislative Budget Office said it expects license fee revenue of $10 million or more for the 2023 fiscal year.
Still, some of the tax revenue haul will be whittled down starting in 2027, when Ohio’s sports-betting law allows operators to deduct 10% of the value of the free bets and other promotional gaming credits they provide to players. Starting in 2032, the deductions can be as much as 20% of the credits.
What will the tax money be used for?
Out of the money generated from sports betting, 98% will be dedicated to education and school sports, while 2% will go to a problem gambling and addiction treatment fund.