Ohio Sports Betting Won’t Begin in Time for Start of NFL Season

Ohio's start date for legal sports betting will likely be close to, if not exactly on, Jan. 1, 2023, which is the deadline for both retail and online wagering to begin.

Last Updated: May 19, 2022 10:29 AM ET Read Time: 2 min
Joe Burrow Cincinnati Bengals NFL
Photo By - USA TODAY Sports

The launch of legal sports betting in Ohio will happen well after the kickoff of the National Football League’s regular season.

According to the Ohio Casino Control Commission website, Executive Director Matt Schuler said Wednesday that the announcement of the universal start date for wagering in the Buckeye State will happen at their next meeting on June 1. 

Schuler added that the launch day would likely be close to, if not exactly on, Jan. 1, 2023, which is the deadline for when both retail and online sports betting in Ohio must begin by law. The NFL's regular season starts on September 8.

“Ohio is undertaking the largest gaming expansion in its history and largest ever simultaneous launch of sports gaming in the United States, with all eligible online applications, brick-and-mortar sportsbooks, and kiosks in bars and taverns eligible to start on the exact same date,” the casino control commission says on its website. “If industry estimates are to be believed, this will necessitate detailed due diligence investigations and ensure compliance requirements of approximately 3,000 applications in time for the Universal Start Date.” 

The news will likely disappoint Ohio-based fans of the Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Browns, who will have to wait until after the NFL regular season starts to get down a legal wager on their squad. It will likely cost the state a decent chunk of tax revenue as well, as football season is the busy season for bookmakers. 

Many moving parts

Ohio’s system for legal sports betting is poised to be one of the more open ones in the United States.

Wannabe bettors will have to be 21 or older and in the state to wager. Up to 25 online sports betting licenses could be issued to start, with the state's professional sports organizations and casino and “racino” operators given preferred status for the permits.

The holders of the online-betting licenses can partner with up to two sportsbook operators, although the licensees must also hold one of the 40 brick-and-mortar wagering permits available or have some business operations in the state. Sports-betting revenue will be subject to a 10% tax rate.

However, the need for a universal start date means getting online, in-person, and even kiosk-based sports betting ready to go simultaneously. That appears to be weighing a bit on the Ohio Casino Control Commission, which hasn’t set the date yet but is expecting it will be after the World Series as well.

“Given the intricacies of the rule making process in Ohio and the number of licenses and investigations that the Commission must issue or undertake, the Universal Start Date is likely to be close to, if not exactly on, January 1, 2023,” the regulator’s site says.

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