After months of waiting, an official start date for legal sports betting in Ohio has been set: The state is hoping to have all online and on-site operations up and running by...January 1, 2023. Many will notice this is later than the initial Ohio legal sports betting projections. The state had hoped to have online and brick-and-mortar retailers ready in time for people to bet on the 2022 NFL season.
It turns out that wasn't in the cards.
Is there any particular reason why legal sports betting in Ohio has been delayed by months? And, by extension, is there any cause for concern? And just how much is the state of Ohio losing by not having the ability to offer betting on the NFL until January?
Let's get into it all.
Why is Ohio Legal Sports Betting Being Delayed Until 2023?
Whenever people hear or see the word "delay" on the issue of legal sports betting, they instantly assume something noteworthy went wrong. They might even think the rollout of sports betting itself is in jeopardy.
Unfortunately, that can sometimes be the case. (Just ask the residents of Florida.) In this instance, nothing especially bad has happened in Ohio. On the contrary, the state has needed to sift through so many sports betting licenses that their inability to keep up with it all enabled this push-back.
Granted, this falls shy of good news. But it does speak to the interest in the Ohio sports betting market. The state has allotted "25 online wagering proprietary licenses" and "40 proprietor permits for brick-and-mortar sportsbooks." Originally, the thought was this many allowances would ensure there wasn't an issue getting approval. But sportsbook operators have been applying for Ohio licenses in droves.
All the familiar companies have thrown their names into the ring—DraftKings, FanDuel, BetMGM, Caesars, etc. Up-and-coming sportsbooks such as Penn Sports Interactive LLC have also tried to enter the mix. The sheer volume of applications is proof that sportsbooks see Ohio as one of the nation's more popular markets. In particular, the hubs of Cleveland and Cincinnati are seen as potential goldmines for sportsbook operators.
Anyway, this unexpected onrush of licensing attempts has created a backlog the state has not been able to handle according to their original timeline. It would be one thing if they were dealing with just online operators, but they're also fielding requests for sportsbooks licenses in casinos and card rooms, as well as kiosk licensing at certain bars and sporting venues.
How Much Money is Ohio Losing by Missing Sports Betting Timeline?
Ohio is not the only state to try prioritizing the rollout of sports betting in time for the NFL season. Places like Kansas and Illinois have framed their releases around the same time. Betting on the NFL—as well as betting on college football—is worth tens of millions of dollars, if not more, to individual markets each year.
Consider this: Estimates from the Gaming Commission say that during the 2021 NFL season alone, people in the United States wagered somewhere between $20 and $21 billion in total. Though that includes the playoffs and Super Bowl, this is still a gigantic number. It means that select bigger markets—like New York, for example—took in $1 billion of total NFL bets themselves.
The state of Ohio could be on a similar financial trajectory. Like New York, they have two NFL franchises, in Cincinnati and Cleveland. And also like New York, both of their organizations are considered flagship teams. Given the size of the population in Ohio, which is the seventh largest in the country, it stands to reason they would have joined the billion-dollar club during the 2022 season.
That hope is now out the window. If sports betting in Ohio doesn't go live until January 1, that means residents won't be able to wager on the entire regular season as well as part of the playoffs. Ohioans will still be able to place bets for the Super Bowl, the largest gambling event in the United States, but that is just a fraction of the wagering pie over the course of the entire year.
Knowing all the money that's at stake, it's pretty clear Ohio did not take this decision lightly. It seems like they are prioritizing patience and optimization over acceleration, which should be a good thing in the long run. Taking extra time to finish the rollout should limit the number of bugs and issues they face when it's officially done.
Where Can You Bet On 2022 NFL Season in Ohio?
In the meantime, if you can't wait, feel free to check out our reviews of the top online sportsbooks. This catalog of evaluations is filled with sites that will allow you to sign up for an account and begin wagering instantly. They offer everything from NFL game lines to football futures, and we even dig deep into the speed with which each operator processes payouts.
All the while, Ohioans can use these alternatives knowing they won't have to wait long to bet on the 2022 football season. It is mere months away. And though that can feel like forever, think of it in these terms: This will be the last time you can't bet on the NFL season in your home state.
Take a look at this list of the top online sportsbooks so that you can decide which one to use for all of your sports betting needs:
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