Entering February 2022, sports betting is legal in the USA for more than half of the country. Roughly 32 of the 50 states allow some form of sports gambling, and there are now 18 that have officially allowed online sports betting in particular. And with legal sports betting set to hit Ohio by 2023, these numbers will soon rise to 33 and 19, respectively.
Following three years of litigation and countless ebbs and flows within debates, Ohio passed a legislature in December 2021 that allows for legal sports gambling in the state as soon as the infrastructure is set up. Per the guidelines, people across the entire state of Ohio will be able to place bets at both retail sportsbooks and online sportsbooks, as well as through mobile apps.
While this is great news for sports enthusiasts, it's also still a year away. Why is it taking so long? Could it be ready sooner? What can Ohioans expect from the initial experience? Let's break down everything you need to know in advance of betting on sports becoming legal in Ohio.
When Will Sports Betting Officially Be Legal in Ohio?
Currently, the deadline for Ohio to introduce legal sports gambling across the state is set for January 1, 2023. This doesn't mean they have to wait that long; it is instead their deadline.
At the same time, officials throughout the local government don't expect legal sports betting to go live much earlier. If anything, they think they'll get everything ready just prior to the deadline.
This makes sense. Ohio just recently gave its stamp of approval to online sports betting, and it has no basis for it already in place. They will be establishing everything from scratch—tax structures, sportsbook licenses, state-approved online servers, compliance guides, etc. The most time-consuming aspect of this process is also only just getting underway.
Jessica Franks, the primary spokesperson for the Ohio Casino Control Commission, has said it could take six months just to come up with a set of rules for the state and their sports-betting partners to follow. And that has to be done before figuring out which operators can even set up shop in the state. From there, Ohio will have to accept applications and ultimately decide which sportsbooks are awarded gaming licenses.
Is Only Online Sports Betting Going to be Legal in Ohio?
In recent weeks, there has been some confusion about how and where sports gambling will be legal in Ohio. Some states have only legalized retail betting. Others have implemented only online betting. A select few that have legalized both, such as Louisiana, only allow it in certain parts of the state.
Fortunately for Ohioans, they don't have to worry about navigating potential exceptions to the law. Sports gambling will be legal all throughout Ohio, and bets can be placed in person, online or through mobile applications from licensed sportsbooks.
The latter part of this is most important. Only sportsbooks licensed by Ohio are technically approved. You can take a look at the reviews of the best online sportsbooks in the business, but some of them may still not provide access from Ohio even after the state officially legalizes sports gambling.
What Will Sports Betting in Ohio Look Like?
Three different licenses are expected to be up for grabs when Ohio opens up applications. They are the follow:
- Class A: This will be for mobile and online betting operations. Ohio currently projects to hand out up to 25 of them.
- Class B: This will be for brick-and-mortar sportsbooks—those predominantly located in any of Ohio's current or future casinos. Sports venues, racetracks, and racinos are also eligible for this license, and the state presently says that 40 of them will be handed out. Expect priority to be given to casinos and professional sports teams, like the Cleveland Browns of the NFL and Cleveland Cavaliers of the NBA.
- Class C: This will be for sports bars that qualify for a specialized liquor license. It is unclear at this time how many of these licenses will be given out.
Of these three licenses, the Class B and Class C permits are the ones worth monitoring. Sports-betting kiosks at professional sporting events (Class B) and sports bars (Class C) aren't yet commonplace in other states, but they're supposed to be an untapped goldmine of profit.
Impact of Legal Sports Betting on Ohio
The earliest projections of the revenue that Ohio stands to gain from legalized sports betting are fuzzy. But the state's casinos have proven to be fairly lucrative sources of profit. And given that Cleveland is among the United States' flagship sporting-market hubs, the state is probably expecting low-to-mid nine-figure profits from the jump.
Those forecasts might even be too conservative, given that Ohio already has an online-gambling veteran up and running within their state lines. JACK, the company that owns and operates a popular Cleveland casino, is expected to be among the first approved for multiple licenses that will include them rolling out their own app, with a special emphasis on live-betting options and single-game prop parlays.
Regardless of the when and how, though, Ohioans can rest easy knowing one thing's for sure: Sports betting is coming to their state, and it will arrive no later than the start of 2023.
Take a look at this list of the top online sportsbooks so you can find the right home for all your future betting needs: