Remember when Ohio legal sports betting was supposed to roll out in time for residents of The Sooner State to play odds for the 2022 NFL season? And then remember when, back in June, Ohio announced legal sports betting would be delayed until the start of 2023?
Well, Ohioans in favor of legal wagering should brace themselves. We have more bad news to report.
Entering August 2022, it looks like the state will delay the start of legal sports betting beyond January. Worse still, there's no clear-cut timeline for when sports betting will actually be live.
Could Ohio remain without legal sports wagering, both online and in-person, until the middle of 2023? Or the beginning of 2024? And why is the rollout being halted yet again?
You've naturally got questions. We're here to try finding some answers.
Ohio Sports Betting Laws May Need to be Rewritten
Initial delays to Ohio Sports betting were rooted in the inundation of licensing applications. Every single sportsbooks and casino in the state was trying to get their foot in the door, and Ohio couldn't properly review all of the requests in time to have their infrastructure set by August or September of this year.
That alone rankled NFL and college football fans. This latest delay is only going to frustrate more people—especially because it sounds like there's a chance Ohio will have to make wholesale changes to their sports betting model and operations.
Sources told NBC 4 in Columbus, Ohio, that the state no longer expects to have betting services ready for January because of the opposition they're getting from businesses and sports wagering operators with regard to some of their policies. More specifically, businesses and vendors are taking exception with the cash-out rules. As Colleen Marshall wrote for NBC 4 in Columbus on July 28:
"The rules require the sports gaming sites bot be ready to pay out, in cash, to gambling winners as soon as the sporting event ends. For a small business on a big sporting event night, that could mean having tens of thousands of dollars in cash on hand. The Ohio branch of the National Federation of Independent Business said that’s financially impossible for some small business owners, and it also sets sports betting operators up as targets for robberies. New numbers show more than 1,000 Ohio businesses are interested in being licensed sports betting establishments."
Given the severity of this cash-on-hand concern, it's now expected the state will have to rewrite some of their sports betting policies. And while that might seem like a simple fix, it gets fairly complicated incredibly quickly.
It May Get Harder to Obtain Betting Licenses in Ohio
Though many are hopeful Ohio will simply tinker their mandate that businesses and betting outlets have enough cash on hand to pay out every bet, others believe they might go a different direction. Sports bettors, they argue, won't want to wait on their payouts and cash in a voucher somewhere else or at a different time. They'll want their winnings now.
This can be mitigated by offering electronic deposits and transfers on-site, but as experts have noted, some of the small businesses aren't presently equipped to make such swift transactions. There's also a strong possibility that certain sports bettors in Ohio won't want to provide their financial information. On-site wagering is almost exclusively done in cash, even these days. If customers want to deal with credit cards and account transfers, they can just head over to any of the best online betting sites in 2022.
All of which is why a growing number of people think Ohio might re-evaluate their decision to make sports betting licenses so accessible. They have currently allowed bars and smaller businesses with a specific type of liquor license to join the line of casinos and online sportsbook operators who will have the ability to accept wagers. But if cash flow remains a point of contention, Ohio could abandon those smaller-scale betting licenses altogether. And in that case, they might receive fresh opposition to sports betting in general, since many will argue removing mom-and-pop businesses from the equation will knife into the economic impact on the state.
Does the Future of Ohio Sports Betting Hang in the Balance?
At a time when we're hearing so much bad news, there is at least one silver lining: Ohio isn't going to pull a Florida; they're not about to repeal their legal sports betting laws altogether. They have been among the states most committed to finding a resolution, and the fact they approved so many different types of licenses for sports wagering implies an unflappable interest.
Still, if you're banking on this latest delay lasting merely a couple of weeks or even months, you're bound to be disappointed. The state has been pretty firm in their insistence that bettors have immediate access to potential winnings. Unless smaller businesses budge on the amount of cash they must carry night-to-night, this is a disagreement that will span the long haul.
Remember: We're not just talking about Ohio potentially changing sports betting laws. They still need to wrap up the licensing process that was monopolizing their time in the first place. They haven't been able to fully complete the program when so many small businesses are rejecting the terms they've laid out.
And so, with all this work left to do, we wouldn't be surprised if Ohio sports betting remains pending and unresolved for up to a year, if not longer.
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