CLEVELAND — Walk around the Jack Casino in downtown Cleveland and you’ll find sports on the televisions at the various bars on the Monday after the AFC and NFC Championship games but just wait.
"I would categorize it as Vegas lite,” said Adam Suliman, Jack's Vice President of online gaming who is overseeing the sportsbook build-outs here and at Jack Thistledown. “We're in design on the footprints, they'll be significant sportsbook footprints in both properties, here downtown at Jack Cleveland and also at Jack Thistledown in North Randal. So we're excited to start swinging hammers on those projects here pretty soon.”
He calls them “Vegas lite” because they’ll be smaller than what you’d find in Las Vegas in size but he said not in attitude.
"I think it's going to be every bit as exciting you know during March Madness or certainly the Super Bowl that you would see in Vegas,” he said.
They don't have to be as big because while sportsbooks used to be where the sports betting action took place the industry has evolved with technology and these days mobile is king.
“What we're learning very quickly in this space is that customers just expect to be able to bet on their mobile devices and in every state where mobile and online wagering has been allowed it is the preference of customers to use that medium. In fact, I was just looking at some numbers out of Arizona and upwards of like 94 percent of the bets are taken mobile vs. in a retail environment,” he said.
As for Ohio, he pointed out that it's the first time in the state that any gambling product's been offered on a mobile device or online. “So it's a whole new world and one we're excited to offer.”
Suliman said the Jack Properties will be ready before January 1, 2023, the launch date in the event the state was to let them launch early. Already up is their website BetJack.com filled with sports news and something that's also important with a new industry, what they call Bet Jack training camp in an effort to explain sports betting and its lingo to those who have never done it.
“This is a new business and it's a new gambling opportunity and it can be confusing right,” Suliman said. “Anybody who has walked up to a blackjack table who has never played before can tell that can be a bit intimidating so the way we view our job now is to help educate and sort of train customers, provide a training camp if you will to help people understand how this type of gambling works and so we're offering that on BetJack.com right now.”
But they're about to take it a step further, something they hope to launch relatively soon is a product that will let you be able to bet on sports online right now but without money - you don't wager any - you don't win any. What you get is a feel for how this will work.
"Primarily that goal is just to help customers get their feet wet a little bit and get some reps in before real money starts flying around and hopefully we get them comfortable with not only our product but just the industry in general,” he said.
“I just think it's kind of our responsibility as an operator to help educate the customers here in Ohio."
Still, it has to sting a little as an Ohio-based operator to have an Ohio team in the Super Bowl and not be able to take any bets on it?
"I mean look we're thrilled that an AFC North team that's not the Ravens or the Pittsburgh Steelers is in the Super Bowl, we would have also liked to see Cleveland make it that far but maybe next year right?"
Well as it turns out Caesars Sports Book just released those odds for next year, the Browns are tied for the 18th best shot at that. The odds are +4000 meaning if you bet $100 on them to win the Super Bowl and they did you would win $4,000.