Fewer Promotions Have Not Adversely Impacted Ohio Sports Betting Revenue

Dan Favale
By , Updated on: Mar 11, 2024 08:00 PM
Fewer Promotions Have Not Adversely Impacted Ohio Sports Betting Revenue

Will a decline in promotional offerings from the top online sportsbooks in the United States have a material impact on Ohio sports betting revenue in 2024? Many, including experts, believed that it would.

So far, it has not.

The Ohio Casino Control Commission (OCCC), which oversees sports gambling throughout The Buckeye State, just released their first round of monthly data for the new year. And as it turns out, January 2024 returned the second highest revenue amount since the launch of legal sports betting in Ohio in January 2023

According to the OCCC, sportsbooks in Ohio turned a total profit of around $113.2 million. The Ohio sports betting handle (total amount of wagers placed), meanwhile, came in at $810 million.

With the release of these figures comes a sigh of relief among OCCC officials and state regulators. More than a handful were worried that a dip in available sportsbook bonuses would lead to slower returns. The month of January is proof that may not be the case.

Of course, one month’s data is hardly enough to make sweeping declarations. This is a development, and potential issue, that must be tracked throughout the year.

Why Ohio Sports Betting is Seeing Fewer Promotional Bonuses

Whenever a new sports gambling market goes live, the sportsbooks that receive licenses aggressively seek to build their customer base. Not only are they tapping into a previously unplumbed demographic, but they are competing for business with other sports betting operators.

This invariably leads to a steady stream of deposit-friendly promotions from sportsbooks in the USA. Especially during the first year. That’s when companies are going to drive the most registrations and, by extension, returning customers. 

The launch of Ohio sports betting in 2023 was no exception. Throughout all of last year, sportsbooks in The Buckeye State offered high-end sign-up promotions, most of which came in the form of free bets and sign-up bonuses. Many of those programs will now be pulled back. Yes, online sportsbook betting bonuses and promotions will still be available. But they won’t be as lucrative in Year 2. Plus, even if sign-up promotions remain absurdly enticing, there’s simply not as many potential new customers available. The focus now, in many cases, shifts to retaining established business. 

This progression has fueled concern about the 2024 Ohio sports betting revenue projections. Without as many promotions available, will Ohioans bet on sports as much? 

And to be sure, this isn’t a worry unique to The Buckeye State. Every sports betting market in the United States goes through it. There is an initial boon, and then, inevitably, the industry will settle. Figuring out how to sustainably, and safely, generate revenue is an issue every state with legalized sports betting must grapple with. 

Whether the Ohio sports betting market has a leg up on other regions will be a matter of course. But the early returns suggest they’re in better shape and less susceptible to wild swings in handle and revenue.

Online Sports Betting Continues to Reign Supreme in The Buckeye State

Another key takeaway from the first Ohio sports betting report of 2024: Online wagering remains on the rise. As the folks over at Point Spreads relayed:

“Of the $810 million handle, more than $792 million was wagered online. The state’s 15 retail sportsbooks saw $18.3 million in wagers during the month and showed revenue of $2.5 million. Online wagering showed a profit of $110.6 million, so the hold was pretty similar. Online wagering showed a hold of 13.96 percent, and retail sportsbooks were at 13.73 percent. The top three retail sportsbooks also offer casino games and slot games, so bettors get the full array of gambling opportunities.”

The latter line is important. Officials initially hoped on-site Ohio sports betting opportunities could help safeguard the market against second-year decline. The thought process was (and is) that the chance to partake in casino games and slots would continuously draw in both state residents and out-of-state drop-ins. 

Still, it is yet again the accessibility of online sports betting throughout Ohio that does the heavy lifting. Almost 98 percent of sports bets placed in The Buckeye State during January 2024 were processed with a mobile operator. That is a bonkers share, even by present-day standards. 

Just a couple of years ago, it was estimated that online sports betting in the USA accounted for between 75 and 80 percent of the country’s total handle. That share is clearly shifting further and further toward the mobile-wagering spectrum. 

The Ohio Sports Betting Industry Must Still be Monitored for the Rest of 2024

Despite the early returns, there’s no guarantee the Ohio sports betting market continues to increase revenue for the rest of the year. They will eventually hit troughs in the sports calendar. How they fare during those months will be valuable gauges.

In fact, the February 2024 report that drops in March or April may be a better harbinger. Remember, Ohio sports betting still reaped the benefits of college football and NFL playoffs wagering throughout the month of January. February poses a greater test. 

That first week will get a bump from betting on the Super Bowl. After that, though, the general sports calendar calms down until the middle of March, when the betting on the 2025 March Madness tournament reaches its fever pitch.

This isn’t to say Ohio should brace for an intense drop in business and interest. Slower stretches are part of every sports calendar year. But with fewer bonuses being offered and, presumably, fewer sign-ups taking place, this is a topic that’s absolutely worth tracking for the rest of 2024.

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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...

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