Could Ohio sports betting break the record for revenue generated outside of New York in the first year of legal gambling? Experts aren't ruling it out.
On the contrary, they're actively predicting it.
As of January 1, sports betting in Ohio is officially live. And the folks over at PlayOhio.com have crunched the numbers, and they project the state to "quickly rank among the biggest markets" regarding legal sports betting inside the United States.
But what does that mean? Like, how much revenue are we talking about? Hundreds of millions? A billion? Billions, plural?
Let's find out.
Ohio Sports Betting Could Generate Nearly $8 Billion in Business During 2023
Yes, you are reading the headline of this section correctly. Ohio sports betting is expected to flirt with nearly $10 billion in business throughout 2023.
"When it’s all said and done, Ohio sports betting could generate $8.0 billion in bets in 2023, according to the PlayOhio projection," Danny Cross of PlayOhio.com wrote just ahead of the state's launch. "That amount would put Ohio among the biggest markets in the U.S., even at such an early stage."
To be clear, this isn't $8 billion in pure profit. It is $8 billion in bets placed—before factoring payouts on winning wagers. But with that much money at play, the state still stands to reap hundreds of millions of dollars in additional tax revenue.
And as Cross noted, this immediately vaults Ohio into the upper echelon of USA sports betting markets. They aren't quite at the level of New York, which took in a whopping $16 billion of total bets during the 2022 calendar year. But with both Texas, California, and Florida all in limbo, Ohio is technically the second biggest market in the United States with legal sports betting.
The Buckeye State won't drop too far down the pecking order when others join the fold. As Jill Dorsen of SportHandle recently told CBS 10 in Ohio: "Ohio is the fourth largest state by population that will have live sports betting." This, of course, means that there are three states with denser populations in front of them. But many believe places like Florida, California, and Texas could struggle to beat Ohio's first-year revenue stream if and when they legalize sports betting.
Ohio Sports Betting Set to Capitalize on a Truly Unique Launch
That last line might come as a shock. California, Texas, and Florida are among the most sought-after betting markets in the USA. They trail only New York in size and desirability, and plenty of experts would peg California as the most lucrative market over the long term. Sure there's no way that Ohio's 2023 sports betting revenue could top their future, perhaps eventual, opening-year returns.
Well, not so fast.
Ohio is currently capitalizing on a perfect storm of circumstances. For starters, unlike most states, their sports betting rollout included everything. Ohio doesn't just have sportsbooks inside casinos. They allow betting on all mobile linemakers, including every single one that appears in our reviews of the top online sportsbooks. They also opened sports betting kiosks at smaller businesses such as restaurants and bars—something not even the ultra-liberal and -aggressive state of New York did.
Prioritizing accessibility will inherently drum up Ohio's initial profit. There's no guarantee Texas, Florida, or California will do the same. Heck, there's no guarantee these states will even legalize sports betting.
On top of that, Ohio sports betting enters the market at a time when patrons are prioritizing experiences. The coronavirus pandemic disrupted life around the globe for multiple years. Even as a recession rips through the United States economy, people continue to travel and flock toward brick-and-mortar social functions—like those at sporting venues, restaurants, and bars, where Ohio just so happens to allow betting kiosks.
This, of course, means that there are three states with denser populations in front of them. But not all of them, including New York, opened with the option of sports betting kiosks at smaller businesses like restaurants and bars.
Timing of Sports Betting Launch Key to Ohio Setting Revenue Record
Meanwhile, this all says nothing of the official shift back to (mostly) normal life. The Ohio sports betting launch is taking place at a time when there are almost zero social restrictions. The coronavirus pandemic stunted or complicated the rollouts for so many other states. Even New York was grappling with some of the lingering effects when they launched legal sports betting in 2022.
Last but certainly not least, Ohio timed its sports betting launch perfectly. It arrived just in time for Ohioans to bet on the NFL playoffs and, by extension, the 2023 Super Bowl. This, in fact, is probably the most lucrative time of the year for sports betting in the United States.
Combined with everything else, this positions Ohio to emerge as the second-biggest first-year gambling market the country has ever seen. Some have even speculated that they could see their total betting handle flirt with $9 billion or $10 billion in the year, depending on how far flagship sports teams like the Cincinnati Bengals (NFL) and Cleveland Cavaliers (NBA) go in their respective postseasons.
With a number that high, the Ohio sports betting launch wouldn't merely be a placeholder record in the non-New York division. It would have a real chance of fending off the inevitable first-year revenue generated by Florida, Texas, and even California.
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