Ohio took another step back as the state’s legal sports betting handle dropped for a second consecutive month.
The Buckeye State saw its sports bettors wager $446.2 million in May, down from $520.6 million for the month prior, according to figures released by the Ohio Casino Control Commission on Friday. The state’s total sports betting handle, which included retail wagering and online betting sites, generated $57.8 million in taxable revenue in May compared to $63.6 million in April.
Ohio, which legalized both retail and online wagering on Jan. 1, got off to a hot start. In January, the Buckeye State reported a sports betting handle of $1.1 billion, which helped the state generate $209.2 million in revenue. Since then, Ohio hasn’t been able to replicate the same success but reported growth in February and March before its first handle decline in April.
February saw sports bettors in Ohio fork over $638.8 million helping drive $81 million in revenue. In March, the state reported $95.1 million in revenue behind a $737.2 million handle.
Ohio has experienced a recent decline as many college and pro sports are in a moratorium. The decline has impacted the state’s 18 online sports betting operators, which include bet365, DraftKings, FanDuel, PointsBet, BetRivers, Caesars Sportsbook, BetMGM, among others.
Ohio has established itself as a promising market for sports betting, but the state has been in the midst of controversy since it went live with wagering.
In January, the OCCC issued notices of violations to BetMGM, Caesars, and DraftKings for allegedly advertising “free” or “risk-free” promotions. That same month, former Cleveland Browns quarterback and team radio announcer Bernie Kosar was fired for violating the NFL’s gambling policy. Ohio sports betting issues have also trickled down to college sports.
In May, gambling regulators in the state ordered sportsbooks to suspend wagering on Alabama college baseball games following a suspicious in-person bet. The wager led to an investigation and as a result, the university fired head baseball coach Brad Bohannon. That same month, the University of Cincinnati fired assistant baseball coach Kyle Sprague and Director of Operations Andy Nagel amid a review of gambling-related violations over interactions with a team parent.
Despite the issues around athletes betting on sports, Ohio stands to rebound and continue to mature as an emerging market.