Although many states have already proven the value of legal sports wagering industries, Ohio is still lagging behind states like Colorado and Arizona. Legal sports wagering first became a possibility in 2020, although the Ohio Senate stalled discussion on the provisional bill. In May 2021, a new substitute sports betting bill was finally discussed.
There still isn’t an official word as to whether Governor Mike DeWine will actually sign this prospective legislation, let alone any details about a potential launch date. Since sports wagering is likely to come to Ohio eventually, we will be updating you on when you can expect to see mobile platforms become available and when retail sportsbooks may open their doors.
Let’s take a look at the gambling and sports betting scene in Ohio as it stands today.
Online Sportsbook Partnerships In Ohio
Because the specifics of sports wagering legalization are still being debated in the Ohio legislature, there haven’t been any announced partnerships at the time of this writing.
However, Ohio is one of the more populated states in the country and many sportsbook operators will likely pursue licensure whenever they can. Several companies already have commercial ties to casinos or other properties in this state:
- FanDuel already provides daily fantasy sports in Ohio and has a deep relationship with the owner of Belterra Park, Boyd Gaming. This operator may already have a good potential partnership ready to go, provided sports wagering is legalized sooner rather than later.
- BetMGM is also already a likely contender for Ohio sports betting since its parent company, MGM Resorts International, already owns Cedar Downs, an off-track betting parlor, and MGM Northfield Park.
- DraftKings is the other top dog in sports wagering and currently provides daily fantasy sports to Ohio residents. It has a market access deal with Penn National Gaming, a much larger company that owns four different casino and “racino” properties throughout Ohio.
- Hard Rock International already operates a casino in Cincinnati and provides a mobile betting app in other states. Thus, this company may be one of the first to bring sports wagering to Ohio residents once sports betting is legalized.
- William Hill has the right to operate any online sportsbooks for Eldorado Resorts. Eldorado itself merged with Caesars Entertainment, and thus is now the owner of the Eldorado Gaming Scioto Downs in Columbus, Ohio. It’s easy to see how this could allow William Hill a way into the Ohio sports wagering market.
These are just some of the potential partnerships we may see if and when sports betting becomes a reality. All operators will have to apply for licensure before they can launch, however, including paying a big fee and agreeing to certain future restrictions.
Is Online Sports Betting Legal In Ohio?
Online sports betting is not currently legal in Ohio, but it isn’t necessarily for lack of trying.
The first push for legalized sports wagering in Ohio came in 2020 with HB 194. This provisional sports wagering bill passed through the Ohio House of Representatives but stalled in the Senate in June of that year. Perhaps due to the coronavirus pandemic, motivation to proceed with sports wagering legalization fizzled out.
It wasn’t until 2021 when the Senate Select Committee on Gaming met with several advisors and stakeholders that the discussion started up again. Support from Gov. DeWine has also helped to reinvigorate a push for legal sports wagering in this state.
As a result, May 2021 saw a new substitute sports betting bill come to the Ohio legislature. The specifics of this legislation include the following:
- An unlimited number of mobile apps to apply for Type A licenses (potentially boosting mobile sports betting licenses into the dozens).
- The ability for casinos and racinos alike to apply for Type B physical sportsbook licenses.
- An emphasis on economic development for fast tax revenue collection – in fact, Ohio may be more motivated to legalize sports wagering than before since the state could use the extra revenue after the pandemic.
- A 10% tax rate for mobile sports wagers.
- A $1 million licensing fee levied on all operators for three years.
- A note asking the Casino Control Commission to regulate the industry.
- A provision for the Ohio Lottery to own and operate its own sports betting product.
These specifics, of course, are still up in the air and can be debated or revised in the future. The sports betting bill has not been finalized by either the House or Senate, let alone signed by the governor.
However, these are a good starting point for future legal discussion and are likely to be popular with professional sports franchises and casinos. We may see a broadly similar version of this bill finally make it to legalization in the future.
How Does Ohio Sports Betting Compare To Other States?
Right now, not well. After all, sports wagering isn’t legal in Ohio in any capacity. Furthermore, Ohio doesn’t offer many other online gambling activities.
Ohio is surrounded by four other states that have legal sports wagering industries. Many of these states are leaders in the industry, offering both mobile and retail sports betting as well as relatively relaxed rules lists, such as legal collegiate bets and plentiful licenses.
However, Ohio isn’t so restrictive when it comes to other retail or in-person gambling activities. For example, Ohio has four retail casinos – one located in the major cities of Columbus, Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Toledo – and several video lottery terminals that run at the state’s seven legal racetracks.
Therefore, you can already enjoy in-person casino games and horse race betting. You can even use apps like TVG to place mobile or online horserace bets.
All this indicates that Ohio’s sports betting industry will likely begin with a bang once lawmakers finally agree on the specific rules and regulations that operators will have to abide by. The state will probably enjoy lots of immediate revenue as Ohio residents will no longer have to state hop to get their sports wagering fix.
Still, this is all speculation at the moment. Time will tell whether Ohio’s sports wagering industry shapes up to be a major force compared to other states in the country or if it fizzles out and isn’t successful enough to spur future online gambling developments, like legal online casino games.
Other Legal Online Gambling Options In Ohio
At the moment, your online gambling options in Ohio are pretty limited. The state does run a lottery, but you can only participate through physical terminals and ticket stations. Bingo games and certain charitable activities are available as well, but again, these can’t be participated in online.
Additionally, online casino gambling is not yet legal, even though Ohio has plenty of retail casinos to check out. That said, Ohio may legalize online casino gaming if online sports wagering is a success.
For the time being, your only other online gambling options are horserace betting through apps like TVG and TwinSpire. Both of these apps are legal since horse race wagering is legal in Ohio overall. Off-track betting parlors and physical racetracks offer additional avenues to put money down on horse races.
Even though online casino games aren’t legal, you can still check out online sweepstakes casino sites like Chumba Casino if you want a casino game experience without gambling real money.
What Types Of Bonuses To Expect At Legal Online Betting Sites In Ohio
The online sportsbooks to come to Ohio will have a variety of opening bonuses and promotional opportunities to draw in new players and get people to make accounts. Odds are many of these bonuses will be quite worthwhile. Here are some of the bonuses you can expect at the future legal online betting sites in Ohio:
Deposit Match Bonuses
Operators like DraftKings and others will probably offer deposit match bonuses. These bonuses kick in only for the first deposit you make for your account, so consider how much money you want to put into your account wisely.
For example, DraftKing’s deposit match bonus is a 20% bonus up to $1000. Say that you deposit $500; you’ll get another $100 in DraftKings site credit. The credit, however, can only be withdrawn as real money if you play through it 25 times.
With deposit match bonuses and others, be sure to read the fine print so you are never surprised by the deal’s specifics.
Other operators may offer 100% deposit match bonuses but with lower caps, such as a 100% match offer for up to $500 in the case of BetMGM (i.e. a maximum initial deposit of $500).
Risk-free bets are also common promotions offered by sportsbooks like FanDuel. With these opening bonuses, your first wager is protected, covering you in the event that it goes south.
Say that you lose your first bet. FanDuel will cover you for up to $1000 in site credit. Granted, the site credit comes in five vouchers with the credit value split evenly between them, so you can’t combine them into a single big bet again. But it’s still a good opening bonus to protect new sports bettors who may not know what separates a good wager from a bad one.
Again, be sure to read the fine print so you understand any play-through requirements that may kick in before you can withdraw that credit as cash.
Free bets are common opening bonuses that give you the opportunity to try out a mobile sportsbook before you put a lot of money down. DraftKings, for example, offers five $5 free bets for all new account holders.
The bets can only be used for bets with specific odds ranges, but they are still a great way to try out an app and see if you really like it before spending a lot of cash. Note that most free bet bonuses expire after about a week or so of making your account, so take advantage of them while you can.
Sportsbooks also typically offer regular or ongoing promotions rather than just opening bonuses. Ongoing promotions include bonuses like odds boosts (boosting the potential profits of certain betting lines), special wagering markets for sports seasons or upcoming events, and more.
You should look into the regular promotions that sportsbooks offer before deciding on one as your main platform. Regular promotions can help determine whether a book is a good long-term sports betting app or if it’s just good for occasional fun.
Legal Online Gambling In Ohio FAQs
No. But the Buckeye state does have several retail casinos to visit. If online sports wagering goes well, the state legislature may reverse this decision and allow online casino games to blossom into their own industry.
We don’t know for sure, but odds are you’ll need to be 21 years of age or older. This is the standard gambling age for all other states with online gambling industries.
Practice good digital hygiene. That means not sharing your personal information (especially your passwords) with anyone, as well as not leaving your account open and your phone unlocked or lying around.
Most sportsbook apps will allow you to make deposits and withdrawals using several electronic methods, like credit and debit card transfers, bank transfers, and electronic wallet transfers with platforms like PayPal.
Once the industry launches, online gambling will be safe in Ohio. The regulatory commission in charge of monitoring online sportsbooks will make sure that each licensed book has good digital security and SSL certification at a minimum.
When you sign up for an online sportsbook account, the book in question checks the information you provide with government records to make sure that you are who you say you are.