Sports betting has fast, $1B start in Ohio; Dayton sees big numbers, too

Sports betting was a huge hit in Ohio right out of the gate, as consumers wagered more than $1.1 billion in January — the first month the activity was legalized in the state — according to data released Tuesday.

Gamblers at Hollywood Gaming at Dayton Raceway spent more than $1.4 million at the Barstool Sportsbook retail establishment in January, according to data from the Ohio Casino Control Commission.

Bettors also wagered more than $2.8 million using the Dayton raceway’s BetRivers online platform.

Gamewise, an online betting platform through Miami Valley Gaming and Racing in Lebanon, received about $203,465 in sports wagers, while gross receipts from a retail sports book at the business nearly reached $358,000.

“Only New York has had a bigger first month for online gaming than Ohio has,” said David Forman, vice president of research with the American Gaming Association. “Just in its first month of operation, Ohio is probably comfortably one of the top four sports betting markets in the country.”

Online sports betting accounted for the lion’s share of sports betting in the Buckeye State ($1.09 billion).

Wagers at retail sports books fell just short of $23 million, while sports wagers at Ohio Lottery kiosks in January totaled about $850,300.

Some industry groups predicted that sports gambling in Ohio could generate about $8 billion in bets in the first year that it is legal in the state. Sports betting is already well on its way to reaching or possibly exceeding that mark.

In Ohio, online mobile sports gaming entities must have an in-person retail license or an operational place of business in the state, said Jessica Franks, director of communications for the Ohio Control Commission.

Multiple online and mobile sportsbooks have partnered with Ohio casinos and racinos to meet this requirement, she said.

“To get access to Ohio’s market, you have to be an Ohio-based company,” she said.

Hollywood Gaming at Dayton Raceway has a partnership with BetRivers, while Miami Valley Gaming offers MVG Bet, which is operated by Gamewise.

Some of the nation’s most popular sports betting mobile platforms, like FanDuel, DraftKings, BetMGM and Caesars Sportsbook, have partnered with other casinos and racinos across the state.

Fanduel (which partnered with Belterra Park in Cincinnati), reported more than $494 million in online sports wagers statewide, while DraftKings (partnered with Hollywood Casino in Toledo) had nearly $344 million in sports bets.

BetMGM had more than $82 million in bets, and Barstool had nearly $46 million.

Sports betting is legal in 36 U.S. states, said Forman, and Americans spent about $93.2 billion on sports betting in 2022 — an increase of about 62% from 2021.

Forman said many people in Ohio already bet on sports before it became legal on Jan. 1, and it will take time for some bettors to decide to switch to legal platforms, which have consumer protections and other benefits.

He said he believes Ohio will see significant growth in the sports betting market as people learn more about it and give it a try, now that the activity is no longer taboo.

“I think there’s no doubt you’ll see a bigger month than (January) in the future,” he said.

Some addiction service providers have raised concerns that the legalization of sports gambling could result in more problem betting and addicted bettors.

They pointed out that online sports gambling allows people to place wagers on their mobile devices any time of the day, and some people may have trouble betting responsibly.

About the Author