The state of Ohio is one of the best sporting states in America, even though it usually gets overlooked by sports fans. Sports fans in Ohio are extremely passionate and loyal to their favorite teams, and this seems like the ideal state to legalize sports betting. States all across the country have been moving towards legalizing sports betting, and it looked like Ohio was set to join them earlier this spring. Lawmakers in Ohio just can’t seem to agree on certain key issues, and it is keeping sports fans from placing bets on their favorite teams, as well as keeping valuable revenue from the state. Some states have to worry about what teams will help drive sports betting, but that isn’t the case in the Buckeye State. It does appear that Ohio will legalize sports betting in the near future, but no one is really sure how soon it might be.
AT A GLANCE
Status of Betting AT A GLANCE: There are a pair of bills on the table in Ohio that would legalize sports betting, but not much action or discussion has been taken. The bills are extremely different and one of the major fights is about who will control the new industry. Residents and lawmakers seem to be in agreement about legalizing sports betting, but there are still some questions that need answered.
Where to Bet AT A GLANCE: One of the bills is hoping to offer betting kiosks similar to buying lottery tickets, while the other bill is trying to legalize sports betting in the casinos around the state. It’s hard to really gauge what bill will ultimately win out, but adding a sportsbook to a casino is a much better option.
Teams AT A GLANCE: Ohio has plenty of professional sports teams that will help drive sports betting, even though a lot of their teams haven’t been very successful. All of the teams in the state are extremely popular, and attendance is great at their respective venues. Oh, and then there is The Ohio State University that has fans from all over the Buckeye State.
Status of Sports Betting
Ohio has traditionally been a conservative state, but that started to change a bit in the year 2012. Lawmakers were able to get enough support to expand the casino and gaming industry in the Buckeye State, and there are now up to 14 casinos/racinos in operation. Ohio is now trying to decide whether or not to open up their gambling policy even more and include sports betting. The Supreme Court lifted a federal ban on sports betting in 2018, and states all across the country are being forced to decide whether they should make it legal within their borders. Extra revenue is the biggest reason that states are legalizing sports betting, but there are also a few negatives that are holding states back. A pair of bills were recently introduced in Ohio this spring, but not much action has been taken on either of them. Both of the bills are similar, but there is one big difference that is slowing the process down.
HB194 was one of the bills introduced this spring, and it calls for the Ohio Lottery Commission to oversee the sports betting industry. SB111 was also introduced this past March, but it calls for the Ohio Casino Control Commission as the regulatory body over this new industry. HB194 would offer sports betting through kiosks at retail locations, while SB111 would leave the casinos and racinos in charge of creating a sportsbook or establishing a mobile app. It does appear that any new law that gets passed would include mobile/online wagering, but that could take some time to get up and running. Governor DeWise is in support of SB111, but that bill still needs some work to be done before it is taken for a vote. It does appear that a sports betting law is imminent in the state of Ohio, but there are still plenty of hurdles to clear before it actually happens.
Where to Bet Sports
Even though there is still some debate about what establishments will be able to offer sports betting, it is become more clear that casinos will get the first crack at it. There are 14 casinos or racinos in the state of Ohio, and some of the biggest and most popular establishments would probably be the first to open up a sportsbook. Most of these casinos currently just offer slots and gaming machines, but some of the bigger ones do offer table games. It is likely that any new law in Ohio will allow for casinos to open up a sportsbook app through their casino, which will give sports betting fans the chance to place a bet through their mobile device as well.
Hollywood Casino Columbus: Hollywood Casinos all across the country have already started opening up sportsbooks, and the same could happen very quickly in Ohio. The Hollywood Casino has a 160,000 square foot gaming floor, but is one of the biggest and bets in Ohio. There are a ton of hotels and restaurants nearby, and patrons routinely visit this establishment for more than just one day. Location is a big deal in the casino industry as well, and being in downtown Columbus gives the Hollywood Casino a huge edge over their competition. There will be plenty of action before and after Blue Jackets and Buckeye games if this casino offers sports betting.
Hard Rock Rocksino Northfield: Northfield, Ohio isn’t a very big city, but this brand new casino is located just 20 miles from both Cleveland and Akron. This is one of the newest casinos in the state of Ohio, having opened up in December 2013. Hard Rock has other casinos throughout the country that have already gotten involved in the sports betting scene, and the same thing would likely happen in Ohio. This is a 200,000 square foot venue that offers plenty of room to open up a sportsbook if betting becomes legalized. This an extremely popular casino that would become a leader in the sports betting industry.
JACK Cleveland Casino: There are three separate JACK casinos in the state of Ohio, but the one located in Cleveland will likely have an edge over the other two. The biggest reason is that the Cleveland Browns are extremely popular in the state, and this casino is close to the stadium. There are several hotels and restaurants nearby, and would be a hotspot for visitors before and after Browns and Cavs games. This location is partnered with Caesar’s Entertainment Group, and Caesars is one of the leaders of sports betting. JACK Cleveland Casino is relatively small at just 100,000 square feet, but they should be able to offer an online sportsbook pretty quickly if the law gets passed.
Mobile/Online Wagering: The best option for placing a bet on sports will likely be mobile/online wagering. Lawmakers have given plenty of support to mobile wagering in recent weeks, and sports betting fans in Ohio are all for it. Being able to place a bet through a mobile device is much easier than traveling to a casino, and can be done a lot quicker. Most sports betting fans are already betting on sports through an offshore sportsbook, and this won’t change the way they are used to betting. The casinos would likely be the ones in charge of creating a mobile sportsbook app, but patrons will without a doubt take advantage of that opportunity.
Governor Favors Casino Control: It appears that both of the bills have equal support in the Ohio legislature, but there is one man that holds the trump card. Governor Mike DeWine has indicated that he prefers the bill that has the casinos in charge of regulating sports betting. DeWine is a Republican, and his support gives great hope to the members of the Senate who have supported this bill. DeWine prefers to have the Ohio Casino Control Commission in charge of the sports betting industry rather than the Ohio Lottery. The House of Representatives can still get their bill passed, but it’s unlikely that it will be signed into law by DeWine.
Residents, Experts Want Mobile Wagering in Ohio: As the lawmakers in Ohio continue to debate about which sports betting bill is the best, residents and lobbyists are expressing their support for mobile wagering. A recent luncheon was held at Columbus Metropolitan Club and several key speakers informed the public about the benefits of mobile wagering. Most of the discussion centered around other states that have legalized mobile wagering, and the amount of extra revenue that has been brought in. There were other opponents of legalizing sports betting that spoke at the luncheon, but the majority is in favor of an expansive new law.
Sports Betting Revenue to Eliminate High School Fees: Everyone in the state of Ohio is wanting to know what the new revenue would be used for, and Lieutenant Governor Jon Husted has some ideas. Husted is proposing that a portion of the revenue be divided amongst the schools to eliminate the fees that come along with high school sports and other programs in the education system. The plan to use sports betting revenue to help out kids has generated a ton of support from residents across the state, and this type of thing has been done in other states as well. Ohio lawmakers won’t know exactly how much money can be given to the schools until the industry is up and running, but any little bit will help out.
Sports Teams That Drive Betting
There are just a handful of states in America that are fortunate enough to have a team in each of the four professional sports leagues. Ohio is one of those states, although most of their teams haven’t been extremely successful. Professional teams are the ones that drive sports betting in the states where it has been legalized, and Ohio won’t have any trouble getting betting up and running.
The Cleveland Cavaliers have had their share of tough times throughout their history, but they have also brought the city a long awaited championship. The Cavaliers were one of the most popular teams in the state and country when LeBron James was running the show, but they will always be popular in Ohio. The Cavaliers will definitely help drive sports betting if it becomes legalized.
Ohio is home to a pair of National Football League teams, and they are bitter rivals. The Cleveland Browns and Cincinnati Bengals are both members of the AFC North, and they have had some epic battles throughout the year. The NFL is a leader in the sports betting industry and the Browns and Bengals will help drive sports betting in the state of Ohio.
There are also a pair of Major League Baseball teams that share a city with the NFL teams. The Cleveland Indians and the Cincinnati Reds have very different fan bases in the state of Ohio, but both of them are extremely popular. Cleveland has been a perennial playoff contender of late, and the Reds are building something special.
The Columbus Blue Jackets are the state’s hockey team, and they are a solid NHL franchise. Betting on hockey isn’t one of the most popular sports in a lot of places, but that won’t be the case in Ohio. The state is proud of their Blue Jackets team, and there will be plenty of action on them.
The Ohio State University is the biggest school in the state, and they have a proud athletic tradition. The Buckeyes are routinely one of the most dominant college football teams in the land, but they are great at other sports as well. If collegiate sports betting is legalized in Ohio then the Buckeyes will bring in a ton of action.
All of the popular teams in the state of Ohio would bring in a ton of action, and would help bring in a ton of revenue for the state. Even though most of these teams haven’t won much of late, they are still extremely popular and have loyal supporters. Betting on sports will make the game more enjoyable and exciting for the casual fan.
Casino Legal Status: There are 14 casinos and racinos in the state of Ohio where table games, slots, and gaming machines are legal. This came as part of a casino expansion in 2012.
Sports Betting Legal Status: Not legal at this time, but a pair of bills are on the table to legalize in the near future. Potential legalization in 2020 at the earliest.
Horse Racing Legal Status: Horse race betting is legal at any of the racetracks in the Buckeye State. Online horse race wagering is also legal under state law.
Poker Legal Status: Poker is legal at the licensed casinos in the state, but online poker has not been legalized in Ohio.
DFS Legal Status: Online fantasy sports betting in Ohio was legalized in 2017. DFS companies are allowed to take bets from Ohio residents.
Lottery Legal Status: The Ohio Lottery is in charge of this industry in the Buckeye State. Currently, online lottery sales are non-existent, but that will likely change in the near future.
Sports Betting Timeline
- May 31: Governor DeWise gives support for casino control
- April 2019: HB194 introduced and discussion taken on sports betting bill
- March 14, 2019: SB 111 introduced in the Ohio Senate
- July 12, 2018: Five Ohio state senators introduce a one-page bill
- 2012: Expansion of Ohio Casino and Gaming Law passed