Ohio Sports Betting Launch Expected to be Financial Boon for Small Businesses

Dan Favale
By , Updated on: Apr 9, 2024 08:00 PM
Ohio Sports Betting Launch Expected to be Financial Boon for Small Businesses

The long awaited, highly anticipated launch of legal sports betting in Ohio is almost upon us. The state will open access to their residents on January 1—almost without restriction. Everything from in-person wagering to online sports betting to kiosks is expected to be up and running. And you better believe the full scale Ohio sports betting launch has small business owners giddy about the prospects of financial gain.

There is a level of obviousness to this excitement. The Ohio sports betting launch allows for kiosks in mom-and-pop-type shops like bars and restaurants, in addition to being placed at chain stores and pro sporting venues. That directly translates to additional revenue not just for the state, but for any place playing host to a sports betting kiosk.

Still, the move to legal sports betting is expected to be a financial boon for small businesses in other ways. And that, in turn, could lead to the greater expansion of sports betting in Ohio. It might also lead to record-breaking revenue streams.

Ohio Sports Betting Launch will Drive Up Foot Traffic at Local Restaurants

Local restaurants and bars, in particular, stand to benefit from the Ohio sports betting launch. The state lowered the threshold for licensing approval on sports betting kiosks, which allowed small business owners who otherwise wouldn't have the on-site cash capital to cover wagers to apply approval.

Business owners are setting their expectations accordingly. CBS 10 in Ohio recently interview Trevor Stauffer, the manager of a local pizza shop and pub, who believes his job is about to get a lot busier. "[Customers] actually get to weight another aspect of being at a restaurant, as opposed to just staying at home," he said.

Stauffer is spot-on in his assessment. Yes, the vast majority of sports betting now takes place online. But on the heels of the coronavirus pandemic, studies conducted by numerous sociologists have shown that people are putting an increasing emphasis on human interaction and experiences.

This is good for the bar and restaurant business model in general. Adding sports betting kiosks to the equation will only help. Bars and restaurants tend to be crowded for special sporting events in the first place. The chance to bet on sports in real time is expected to translate to an even greater revenue stream on those occasions.

Small Businesses in Ohio Don't Need Kiosks to Capitalize on Sports Betting Boom

There is one potential hang-up to the rising expectations among small businesses: Drumming up extra foot traffic with sports betting kiosks requires bars and restaurants to, you know, actually have their kiosks. That won't be the case for everyone.

According to the Cincinnati Business Journal, a good chunk of Ohio sports betting kiosks won't be operational in time for the initial January 1 launch. The reason behind the delay isn't quite clear. But it stands to knife into some of the early Ohio sports betting returns.

Then again, maybe not.

Remember: Online sports betting in Ohio will also be legal. That means people can place bets from their phone while also on the go. As Stauffer noted in his interview with CBS 10, not all of his company's pizza shop locations will have a sports betting kiosk. But he expects business to be through the roof anyway, because people will invariably come out to watch the game place bets from their phone.

Furthermore, experts in the field now think the betting kiosk shortage won't be as widespread as expected. Jill Dorsen, the managing editor of Sports Handle, told CBS 10 she still expects 800 sports betting kioks to be installed and operational by January 1. That represents more than half of the betting kiosks scheduled to be set up when the Ohio sports betting launch is completely done.

Is Ohio Already Thinking About Sportsbook Expansion?

In his final comments to CBS 10, Stauffer captured the prevailing sentiment spreading around Ohio. "I'm not only excited just to have it for our business," he said. "I'm excited for the state. Because now you have that money staying here."

He's not wrong. Plenty of Ohioans responded to polls by saying they bet on sports before it was legal. Some traveled to neighboring states with legal sports betting already in place. Others signed up with offshore sportsbooks, a market that has made a name for itself and its reliability. Just look at our reviews of the top online sportsbooks. The industry is chock full of reputable bookmakers willing to accept bets from people in the United States.

Local officials used these exact talking points when deciding whether to legalize just on-site betting or opening up the market to online sportbooks. They went with the latter route—and they're already talking about expanding their paramters.

Per CBS 10, the early success of sports betting kiosks inside Ohio could prompt even more to be placed throughout the state. Not only that, but there's already talk that Ohio could increase the number of sportsbook operator licenses they hand out. For now, they have stuck to a certain number of retail licenses for online and on-site providers. But some officials have discussed actively seeking out partnerships with offshore sportsbooks and allowing businesses without liquor licenses to apply for betting kiosks.

It's too early to predict how all of this pans out. Sports betting isn't even officially legal in Ohio just yet. But given how much the state is embracing the January 1 launch date, it's clear the future of Ohio sports betting is overwhelmingly bright.

Take a look at this list of the top online sportsbooks so you can find one that works for all of your sports betting needs:

Meet the author

Dan Favale

Dan Favale leverages over 12 years of sports journalism expertise in his role as New York staff writer. He provides in-depth analysis across the NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL, tennis, NASCAR, college basketball, and sports betting. Dan co-hosts the popular Hardwood Knocks NBA podc...

Online Sports Betting may receive compensation if you sign up through our links. Rest assured, we avoid biases and provide honest opinions on sportsbooks. Read more here.