Ohio Sports Betting Numbers Reveal June Swoon

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Joey Votto #19 of the Cincinnati Reds and teammates react during the ninth inning against the Miami Marlins. Michael Reaves/Getty Images/AFP

The report for sports betting in Ohio during the month of June has been released by the Ohio Casino Control Commission, and it reflects a similar downturn in handle seen in states across the nation.

Summer Betting Blues

June, July, and August are typically the slowest sports betting months of the year in North America. All but one of the four major sports is operating, but betting baseball does not have the same allure that most of the other sports have, particularly NFL and college football.

As we have seen throughout the regulated sports betting market in the United States, June’s sports betting numbers are universally sluggish, and Ohio proved to be no exception. The Buckeye State’s 18 online sportsbooks and 14 retail shops combined for a June handle of $362.1 million, which generated $32.6 million in revenue.

It was a sharp decline from May, in which the operators accepted $446.2 million in wagers, producing $57.8 million in revenue, which was nearly 19% and 43.7%, respectively, higher than June’s financials.

Promotions Peeled Back in June

Although June’s numbers were far less impressive than the $1.11 billion handle and $209.6 million in revenue the state did in its first month in operation this past January, we should also note that the sportsbooks have peeled back from the eye-popping number of sign-up bonuses and promotions when sports betting launched.

Those promos are designed to woo early adopters into a sportsbook and away from the competition, as studies have shown the majority of sports bettors use only one sports betting app. Therefore, the sooner the books get a customer, the more likely they are to have them all to themselves.

In January, the sportsbooks doled out a whopping $320 million in bonus bets, which triggered enormous betting numbers, but in June those bonus credits shrunk to just $14.9 million. And when the operators’ revenues are down, so too is the state’s share of those proceeds.

Sportsbooks Taxed Doubled

Speaking of which, the legislature voted to up Ohio’s share of its sportsbooks’ sports betting revenue from 10% to 20% beginning in July. The increase was neatly tucked in the state budget proposal, which was passed by both chambers with the Senate voting, 25-6, in favor while the House approved it by a 67-30 margin.

And while the sportsbooks operating in Ohio were naturally unhappy about having to share double what they were giving the government, former state Rep. Dan Dodd, a vocal proponent of sports betting in the state, tweeted, “At a 20% tax rate and in current environment, it’s not hyperbole to predict Ohio will have 10 or fewer mobile operators offering bets in 12-18 months. State will also lose over $10m in license fees (unless proprietors pay for license themselves hoping to get a new operator).”

Should the market conditions become untenable for the smaller books, the state will not only lose those licensing fees but will also have less competition in the market which will fail to maximize its sports betting audience within the state. Nevertheless, that’s a risk the Ohio legislators are willing to take.