COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Ohio Casino Control Commission Wednesday removed the legislature's "no later than" designation from that January 1 sports betting start date, making it the official date sports betting will come online. One big reason was because of another legislative requirement in the act.
"The commission is aware that some stakeholders, specifically many online operators have fewer preparations to make leading up to launch and could possibly start sooner,” said Executive Director Matt Schuler. “However pursuant to House Bill 29 all forms of sports gaming must have the opportunity to launch on the exact same date.”
That includes the physical brick-and-mortar sportsbooks, the kiosks, and the online apps.
Northeast Ohio’s two JACK properties, Thistledown and the downtown casino have begun the process of building out their sportsbooks and also building out their future customer base with their free BetJACK app where people can get a feel for sports betting using tokens instead of money. They would have been ready for an earlier start but they understand.
“We understand that the Commission is there to put appropriate regulations in place,” said Adam Suliman JACK Vice President of Online Gaming. “It’s a brand new industry and we think it’s important for us to get off on the right foot as opposed to rushing something and maybe screwing up.”
This will be the largest ever simultaneous rollout of sports betting in the country and with background investigations and comprehensive compliance examinations into the expected 3,000 licensees they want to take their time. That being said industry analysts say the state is leaving money on the table.
"If it would have launched by November 1st we're talking about a billion dollars and that's probably a conservative estimate of extra bets that would have been made in those two months,” said Matt Schoch of PlayOhio.com. “You know how much people in Ohio care about their football, especially college football and then you throw the two NFL teams,” he said. “Everybody's excited about what Ohio's going to bring to the industry and January 1st is going to be a big day.”
And with two weeks left in the NFL season, they expect a lot of bettors, right away.
“Yes, you get the two weeks of games so the first day is going to be a Browns game on Sunday and then on Monday night you're going to have Cincinnati playing against Buffalo so a couple of big games to start. Ohio State fans hope that they can get to the finals on January 10, they'll miss out on New Year's Eve for the semi-final game or maybe a Rose Bowl, Citrus Bowl that they could bet on,” Schoch said.
The licensee application is now available online but it won’t be accepted until June 15.