Advertisement

Ohio gamblers place more than $7.6B in bets in first year

Feb. 12—Ohio bettors wagered more than $7.6 billion with online and retail sportsbooks in 2023, with operators reporting gross revenue totals of $936.9 million, according to the Ohio Casino Control Commission.

"Ohio did very well," said Steve Bittenbender, an analyst and writer with BetOhio.com, which covers the sports-betting industry. "It proved that it was a robust and active market for sports betting. And I think this will show that Ohio had a great rookie year, as far as sports betting goes, and I do not see a sophomore slump happening in this year."

The first year's earning resulted in $133.1 million in tax revenue, with 98% of that used to fund Ohio public education and 2% is set aside for problems sports gambling services. That was helped, in part, by lawmakers in July deciding to double the taxes, which increased withholdings from 10% to 20%.

Sports betting in Ohio started Jan. 1, making the state the 32nd one to allow live sports betting. Now, there are 38 states, plus Washington, D.C., engaging in sports betting, according to the American Gaming Association. Ohio has both online betting and brick-and-mortar betting, while other states have one or the other.

Based on total betting handle — the amount of money wagered by people using online devices, such as desktops, laptops or mobile phones — Ohio was the nation's sixth-largest sports betting market, outpaced by only New York, New Jersey, Illinois, Nevada and Pennsylvania, according to PlayOhio, which reports on Ohio online gambling information.

The state was "just barely behind Nevada and Pennsylvania" and because an increase is expected, "Ohio can vault itself to the fourth-largest market by the end of 2024, according to PlayOhio.

"From the commission's perspective, we had a pretty smooth year," said OCCC spokeswoman Jessica Franks. "Obviously, we did have some issues right at the beginning of the year, with some operators running afoul of our advertising rules, but once we got those addressed, we've seen much better compliance across the industry and haven't really seen any issues arise since then."

Those issues include MGM, DraftKings and Caesars running ads without including messages about responsible gambling, Franks confirmed.

Franks cautioned against putting too much stock into Ohio almost tripling the initial earnings forecast for the state.

"The thing we have to remember is most of those, when those estimates were made, we had no idea how many operators would launch," she said. "When we first started (discussing sports betting), we did not have a start date. There were just a lot of unknowns. There probably were folks that were making estimates based on Ohio's population or the fact that we have a lot of professional sports teams."

Sports bets also can be made through kiosks at bars, restaurants, bowling alleys, grocery stores and other establishments. Consumers in Ohio spent more than $13.2 million at lottery kiosks in 2023, according to Ohio Lottery Commission reports. That meant $303,589 for the state, reports show.

About 97% of revenue accrued in Ohio via sports gambling was via 20 authorized web- or app-based sports gambling vendors with the remainder wagered via 17 brick-and-mortar sportsbooks or gaming kiosks.

Ohioans placed the most bets in January 2023 when sports gambling was new, betting a total of $1.1 billion in that month alone. Only March, with its NCCA March Madness tournament, came close to that amount, with gamblers placing $737 million in bets. The slowest month was June with only $362 million bets placed.

Warren County's Miami Valley Gaming is pleased with the results of the first year of sports gambling, with October as its top earning month, followed by December, according to Gary DeWitt, senior director of operations.

"What we're seeing is kind of like what we had expected, your fall (months) primarily driven driven by, of course, NFL and the NCAA," he said. "We did see some real strong results in December, which was nice to see, particularly from a playoff perspective."