Ohio May Start Cracking Down on Stagnant Sports Betting Licenses

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General view before the Cincinnati Reds against the Pittsburgh Pirates game at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati, Ohio. Andy Lyons/Getty Images/AFP

Ohio sports betting operators that are still sitting on the sidelines may soon be forced to get in the game. 

The Ohio Casino Control Commission is currently reviewing its approach to handling online and retail sports betting licenses for operators who have not yet used them. The group is considering a potential amendment that would address the issue.

The proposed amendment to state gambling regulations would apply to licensees who have either not offered bets for more than a year or have never launched their betting services. Most of the inactive licenses are associated with professional sports properties. 

What Would The Amendments Change?

Ohio law mandates that the Ohio Casino Control Commission revoke the license of any Type A establishment that fails to accept wagers for a year. The amendment reaffirms this requirement while also allowing the commission some flexibility to grant exceptions or extensions.

The proposed amendment would provide the state more control over sportsbooks that aren’t accepting bets. It outlines specific criteria for taking administrative action against licensees who have not actively offered sports gaming. It also restricts license renewal for those who haven’t utilized their license during the preceding term. 

While the proposal aims to address stagnant licenses, there’s speculation that it could lead to more lenient actions and provide flexibility to professional sports properties that haven’t yet taken advantage of regulated sports betting, which officially began in the Buckeye State on January 1, 2023

How Are Ohio Sportsbooks Classified?

Sportsbooks in Ohio are classified in three ways. Online sports are considered Type A licensees, retail sportsbooks are Type B and kiosks are Type C.

For instance, three of 22 sportsbooks licensed to operate Type-A (online) sportsbooks in Ohio have not done so, including: 

  • Underdog Sports (partnering with the Cincinnati Reds)
  • WynnBet (JACK Thistledown Racino)
  • Cleveland Cavaliers (whose sports betting partner, Fubo Sportsbook, ceased operations in 2022)

“A type A sports gaming proprietor may not apply to renew its license if it did not actively offer sports gaming to the economic benefit of the state under the license during the preceding license term and must wait a minimum of one year from the expiration of the license before seeking another license,” the amendment reads.

Additionally, several Type-B license holders have not opened retail sportsbooks, including:

  • Cleveland Browns (Bally’s)
  • Crew SC Stadium Company (Tipico)
  • Lori’s Roadhouse
  • Muirfield Village Golf Club
  • Phantom Fireworks
  • Pro Football Hall of Fame Village—originally had a deal with BetRivers
  • SPIRE Instaiture (Out the Gate)

All Type-C operators are currently operational with kiosks.

Stakeholders in Ohio had until the first week of May to provide feedback on the proposed ‘use-it-or-lose-it’ amendment, which has been under consideration for over a year.

The Driving Force Behind the Proposed Amendment

Sports betting has proven lucrative for many US states, and Ohio is no exception. In its first year, the Buckeye State raked in an impressive $187 million. For the first three months of 2024 alone, the state’s share reached nearly $49 million. Naturally, Ohio hopes to see these numbers continue to grow. Getting the stagnant licenses off the sidelines and into the game would help.

We’ll wait to see where the discussion leads, but typically, when money talks, people listen.