LAS VEGAS – State regulators believe Casino Control Commission executive director Matt Schuler’s harsh criticism of Ohio sports betting applicants had a positive impact.
The Buckeye State has a Jan. 1 launch date for OH sports betting.
“I do think that the executive director being able to let the industry know that they were falling short of expectations really did improve some of the responsiveness that we really needed from all of the industry in order to meet these deadlines,” OCCC general counsel and director of skill games Andromeda Morrison told LSR at the NCLGS conference.
“It wasn’t everyone. Just a certain segment that were perhaps a little slower in responsiveness than we had hoped.”
What OH executive director said
In October, Schuler referred to some of the applicants as “petulant children.” That was because of their deluge of calls to the already swamped commission prior to the application submission deadline.
As of Dec. 8, OCCC chair June Taylor said there were 3,980 sports betting licenses.
Ohio will offer sports betting via online and retail channels, and lottery kiosks. Sixteen online sportsbooks have approval, and about two dozen could go live on Jan. 1. The OCCC will meet again Wednesday.
“Listen, I think that the executive director’s comments were just being authentic about what it has been like, especially at the beginning when all of this was new and being balanced,” Taylor told LSR, noting it’s “not easy.”
Regulator: staff working hard on Ohio sports betting
Regardless, Taylor and her staff are working around the clock, and she doesn’t expect any delays with the Jan. 1 launch date:
“No, but we’ve got to make sure that every day and every night, we are diligent and remain focused,” Taylor said. “We’ll get some shut-eye here and there, but right now we’re focused on that date and nothing else. … We have a unique model, but regardless we’re making sure that our infrastructure can be responsive, and now we simply have to get the job done.”
As calendar turns to 2023, Ohio residents and visitors will be able to place legal sports bets. That is significant as the state looks to boost tax revenues and stop bettors from placing wagers out-of-state, or with illegal offshore sites and local bookies.
“It’s not about me, it’s about the citizens,” Taylor said. “And I think that come Jan. 1 the citizens are going to be pleased that they’ll be able to do sports betting in the manner they asked us to set up. And we’ll be ready.”
Ohio sports betting projections
PlayOhio projects the state could generate $8 billion in bets in 2023. However, Taylor would not make any predictions.
“I’m not going to speculate on that today, because I don’t want to overshoot it or undershoot it,” Taylor said. “More importantly, I’m tasked with Jan. 1 launch. So if we don’t launch Jan. 1, than all that means nothing. I want to stay in the lane that I’ve been given, drive in it, and just keep my eye on that ball for now.”
Unfortunately, Buckeye State bettors won’t be able to wager on the Dec. 31 Ohio St.-Georgia college football playoff semifinals matchup.
“I think it’s something that we always knew was a possibility, that they would make it, and so it is what it is,” Morrison said. “The commission needed to establish a firm deadline to give the industry something to work toward. But best of luck to the Buckeyes.”
OH regulators prepared for challenges
“Whether it’s the DraftKings occurrence or responsible gaming, whether it’s — I was just asked about 20 operators that seem like they’re ready to go — we want to make sure that any issue that can affect a citizen is being addressed,” Taylor said. “The DraftKings situation was unfortunate.
“But I think what we’ve done is now people are more aware of it. And we want to make sure that our team is prepared to be accessible and be ready to partner where we need to parter And to have conversations about things that are sometimes tough conversations like that too.”
State regulators are also hoping to avoid launch-day outages from traffic surges.
“(There’s) no overriding concerns,” Morrison said. “Just making sure that we’re continuing to get everyone across the finish line that has indicated that they’re ready to go. And then making sure that they have all of their equipment and all their required procedures in place, and tested and verified in advance. That process is currently ongoing — both through the online portion of testing those systems, as well as physical visits to the brick and mortar facilities to make sure that their facility plans are in line with what they’ve submitted and was approved by the commission.”