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Sorry Buckeye fans, New Year's Day, not Eve, remains the sports betting launch date

Posted at 8:30 AM, Dec 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-16 08:01:19-05

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Buckeyes landing a spot in the College Football Playoffs caused a few headaches for the Ohio Casino Control Commission.

"We have certain bloggers and industry trade publications, there've been a number of people saying that the commission either should or will change the universal start date to have it be earlier than January 1," said Matt Schuler, Executive Director of the Commission. "All of this creates a bit of uncertainty among our regulated community."

Schuler said this is not a matter that is up for debate because state law requires all forms of sports betting — online, at sports books and at kiosks — to launch at the same time on the same date, and that date is, as it has always been, New Year's Day.

Ohio State is set to play a College Football Playoff semifinal game against the Georgia Bulldogs at the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl on Dec. 31 at 8 p.m., literally four hours before sports betting becomes legal in Ohio.

"They'll definitely leave a couple million dollars in handle on the table by not allowing the state to bet on their Buckeyes," said Robert Linnehan, a sports betting industry analyst and regulatory writer for XL media. "Hey look, if the Buckeyes make the championship game a couple days after the launch, they'll recoup everything that they could have missed in that one playoff game."

Through their vetting process, all sports betting providers have been thoroughly investigated by the commission. As a result though, on this day, they informed online provider PlayUp Interactive that they intend to deny their license application.

"As part of our licensing suitability investigation, staff uncovered information regarding potential illegal gambling activity by Playup, a sports gaming mobile management service provider applicant. Following the discovery, staff issued a notice of intent to deny," said Schuler, who would not comment on what the alleged illegal activity was.

"As part of this proposed denial, a cease and desist notice was also issued to Playup and to a technology partner in this venture called Potent Games. Both parties have already taken steps to comply with the cease and desist letter and Playup has requested a hearing on the proposed denial."

"In the meantime, Playup will not be licensed nor permitted to operate in this state," Schuler said.

Although PlayUp is listed as JACK Cleveland Casino's "1st Mobile Management Services Provider," the company has no connection to the Cleveland casino or hand in operating its BetJACK app.

The Cleveland Cavaliers had a similar partnership with Fubo that was announced earlier this year, but in October, the team said it was ending its sportsbook operations, leaving them to search of a new online partner. That process, the team tells News 5, is continuing, and it does not interfere with the Cav's physical first-floor sportsbook, which they've partnered with Caesars to operate.

And while we've talked about the commercials and online offers trying to entice new gamblers, the Casino Control Commission is slapping a $250,000 fine on one of the online operators, Barstool Sportsbook, for going too far, violating rules "against advertising on or targeting the area of an Ohio college or university campus as well as its rule against targeting individuals under the age of 21," said Schuler. "This apparent direct promotion to college students is completely at odds with responsible gaming and the law."

Barstool and Penn Interactive have the right to appeal the fine to the Commission. All fines paid are put into the state's general revenue fund.