The legalization of sports betting is starting to move at a fast and furious pace in the state of Oklahoma. After officially green-lighting online sports wagering near the end of 2021, the state opted against providing a definitive timeline for when residents would actually be able to place bets. Most assumed they'd be up and running by the start of 2023, if not earlier. And based on where Ohio is in the sportsbook application process, it sure sounds like legal online sports betting will hit the state sooner rather than later.
Are you ready for legal sports betting in Ohio? Because it's coming. And, apparently, it'll be here very soon. Ohio is officially accepting applications for legal online sports betting licenses beginning on June 1, 2022. Though they have thus far resisted committing themselves to a specific timeline, this latest step in the process suggests they plan to have the state's legal online betting systems up and running in a matter of months.
When will legal sports betting hit Ohio? Which sportsbooks should you expect to win a license? How much revenue does Ohio stand to generate from legal online sports betting?
Let's get into it all.
Legal Online Sportsbooks Can Apply for Licenses in Ohio
The most important part of the legalized betting process is doling out licenses to companies and tribes looking to accept wagers. Ohio will be cannonballing into this market incredibly soon, with final applications expected to be made available no later than June 1.
The competition for licenses is expected to be fierce, thanks in large part to the flexibility Ohio has shown in the types of approval they offer. According to the folks over at Ohio Casino and Control Commission, there will be three different sets of licenses. They are described as follows:
"Type A licenses are reserved for mobile operators and professional sports teams, Type B are for brick-and-mortar sportsbooks, and Type C are for self-service kiosks at establishments with an appropriate liquor license. A second application window for Type C licenses will open from July 15 through August 15, according to the commission. All gaming and facility plans, equipment testing, geolocation procedures, and house rules must be established 60 days prior to the universal launch date, and all equipment must be ready for state verification 30 days from the universal launch date."
With so many different levels of access on the table, this figures to be one of the more competitive bidding processes we've seen during the wave of legal online sports betting in the USA. The only question is: Which sportsbooks will be awarded licenses?
Expect These Legal Online Sportsbooks to be Operational in Ohio
Relative to the expected interest in Ohio's different sportsbook licenses, all applicants will need fairly deep pockets to crack the final list. That invariably means DraftKings, FanDuel, Caesars, WynnBet, et al. will leave a footprint on the market by soaking up a handful of the licenses. The rest will likely be handed out to a combination of tribes, card rooms, and companies that combine forces to turn in a single bid.
As you can probably already tell, this means no entity will be granted exclusivity. Other states have given priority to tribes already operating casinos within their lines, which effectively creates a monopoly on the sports betting business that detracts or outright restricts larger companies from setting up shop.
But this approach has proven somewhat combative in certain areas. Florida, for example, repealed legalized sports betting at the end of 2021 because of an ongoing dispute between the Seminole tribe and companies like DraftKings and FanDuel that wanted to enter the market.
Consider the open-door policy in Ohio a big win. It should promise that the launch of legalized sports betting in 2022 will go off without a hitch.
Legal Online Sports Betting will Hit Ohio This Year
Perhaps you noticed we just referenced a 2022 legal sports betting launch in Ohio. That is not a typo. Sports betting in Ohio will be legalized that soon. So go ahead and brush up on our reviews of the top online sportsbooks if you're a resident of the The Buckeye State. You're going to need that information to suss out the best online sportsbooks for 2022.
To be sure, Ohio has not actually committed to a 2022 launch date. That's probably smart on their end. Problems can still arise in the process that pushes back the rollout. But Ohio reportedly wants to have legal sports betting live in time for the start of the 2022 NFL season. Going off that logic, legal sports betting should hit the state by the beginning of September, if not sometime in August.
Pushing to get the state's legal online sports betting infrastructure up and running for the 2022 NFL regular season makes all the sense in the world. No sport generates more betting revenue in North America than the NFL. College football, which also begins in the fall, is a fairly close second. So by wrapping up the process to approve sportsbooks licenses and making wagers available before September, Ohio is guaranteeing themselves a pretty profit right off the bat.
How much money, exactly, are we talking about? That's not entirely clear. But Ohio is already expected to make $10-plus million off the sportsbook licensing process alone. And given that they have two touchstone programs tied to the start of football season, in the Cleveland Browns (NFL) and Ohio State Buckeyes (NCAA), you can estimate that Ohio has tens of millions of reasons to ensure legal sports betting will be ready to rock by Fall 2022—at the absolute latest.
Take a look at this list of the top online sportsbooks so you can decide which one to use once legal betting officially goes live in Ohio:
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