ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. – The leadup to legal sports betting in Ohio is a bit different than in most other states getting ready to launch for the first time.
Look at Massachusetts and Maryland, as examples. The MA sports betting bill was signed August 1 but there is no hard timeline laid out in the bill. State regulators are not under the same pressure to meet a looming drop-dead date.
Ohio on the clock
Ohio, on the other hand, had its deadline set by the enabling legislation: go live no later than Jan. 1, 2023.
That deadline, combined with the fact the state is launching three different types of Ohio sports betting, has created a “heavy lift” for the Ohio Casino Control Commission, Chairwoman June Taylor said on a Friday panel at the East Coast Gaming Congress.
Lots of ‘handholding’ in Ohio so far
Part of Ohio’s workload is dealing with companies that might be new to the regulatory process. Taylor told LSR after the panel there is a “David vs. Goliath” feel with the newcomers that has led to some extra attention for some.
“When you are dealing with vendors and individuals at different levels, a lot of times people just need a little bit more time, a little bit more handholding to understand the process,” Taylor said.
The need for extra help became clear earlier this month. Executive Director Matt Schuler announced a third of applicants did not have all required paperwork submitted. Schuler laid out the multiple times companies learned about the requirements and gave an Oct. 5 deadline to get in all necessary paperwork or lose the chance to launch day one.
Taylor chose her words carefully during the panel and following interview, saying those companies are “evolving.”
New players in the process in OH
The fact that Ohio will offer retail betting, online betting and betting kiosks at lottery facilities means there are plenty of new faces, not just to regulation but sports betting in general.
The nearly 50 mobile sports betting licenses available brought in some newcomers alongside the Goliaths of the industry. That includes a high school focused on athletics for a proprietor license and a few brand-new sportsbook operators like Betr and Underdog.
That does not include the more than 1,300 Ohio Lottery-licensed facilities that are pre-approved to launch kiosks. More than 800 locations have been approved by the CCC despite the kiosks’s limited betting options.
How the kiosks will fit into the market is still “to be determined,” Taylor said.
Ohio sports betting an everyday task
Ohio has just over three months to process thousands of licenses before the market launches at midnight Jan. 1.
That means the concept of weekends is out the window, Taylor said:
“We’re no longer a Monday through Friday shop. Can’t afford to be. We have the governor’s support to do seven days a week and we are doing in Ohio whatever is necessary to help our citizens know and be comfortable with the fact that with integrity, we’re trying to see everyone and help everyone that we can to get over that finish line.”