Ohio gamblers won’t start placing sports bets until Jan. 1, the Ohio Casino Control Commission said Wednesday.
The decision was announced after speculation whether Ohio would start sports gambling in time for the NFL season. The first regular-season game is scheduled for Sept. 8, meaning a large portion of the NFL season will be missed by Ohio sports bettors.
“This date was chosen to give all stakeholders time to start offering gaming on the same date,” Ohio Casino Control Commission Director Matthew Schuler said.
The bill passed by the legislature requires everyone be able to start at the same time, Schuler said, and there is work to be done before the state is ready to launch.
“Leading up to the universal start date, prospective licensees will be completing build-outs or buildings, distributing kiosks, hiring and training employees, obtaining partners and making all the other necessary arrangements to begin offering sports gaming from the very same starting line,” Schuler said.
“The commission is aware that some stakeholders, specifically many online operators, have less preparations to make leading up to launch and could possibly start sooner, however pursuant to House Bill 29, all forms of sports gaming must have the opportunity to launch on the exact same date,” he said.
Ohio’s legislature passed a sports betting bill in December, and Gov. Mike DeWine signed it on Dec. 22. Sports betting must start by Jan. 1, according to the bill, but there was room for it to start before then.
The Ohio Casino Control Commission is in the process of creating rules, applications, forms and other essentials to launch sports betting. An Ohio Casino Control Commission spokesperson previously said the January 2023 deadline was carefully chosen to give the commission enough time to write and approve rules and for it to review companies that apply for licenses.
The commission will begin accepting applications for sports gaming licenses on June 15. Schuler said Jan. 1 will mark the largest expansion of gaming in Ohio’s history. Ohio will offer online sports gaming, as well as brick-and-mortar and kiosk options.
The state estimates that sports betting will be a $1 billion industry in Ohio in its first year or so of operation, growing to $3.35 billion within a few years. Since a U.S. Supreme Court ruling four years ago cleared the way for all 50 states to legalize sports gambling, Americans have bet more than $125 billion on sports.
PlayOhio released an analysis that found Ohio will be missing out on potentially millions of dollars by not launching by the NFL season. The analysis found that sportsbooks in Ohio will bring in as much as $130 million per week in NFL betting volume during the 2022 season. The analysis found that it could result in about $7 million won by sportsbooks and $700,000 in tax revenue a week.
Lawmakers behind the push for legalized sports gambling in the state previously predicted an earlier launch date.
“I was optimistic that sports betting would be able to be implemented before the legal deadline of Jan. 1,” said State senator Niraj Antani, R-Miamisburg. “As it’s now clear that it will not be before then, I assure the public that it will be here before we know it and I look forward to betting on the Bengals to win the Super Bowl with them.”
Daniel Wallach, who owns a sports gaming-focused law firm, said some other states tried to launch their sports gambling around football season. He said Ohio is competing against other states for tax dollars and September is going to be one of the busiest months of the year for sports gambling.
However, he said Ohio Casino Commission is preparing a comprehensive sports betting launch and the priority is to get it right.
“Ultimately when the market matures this is going to be the leading sports betting market in the region,” Wallach said. “Not only due to population size but the involvement from so many stakeholders.”
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