COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — The Ohio Casino Control Commission has doled out more than 1,000 licenses to businesses across the state to offer sports gambling kiosks, and establishments eligible for in-house betting range from bars and restaurants to bowling alleys and grocery stores.
But as Jan. 1 — Ohio’s start date for legalized sports gambling — draws nearer, some businesses licensed to have sports kiosks in central Ohio said they will not have shiny new machines on the first day of 2023.
Rules and regulations
The kiosks, which are regulated by the Ohio Lottery rather than the Ohio Casino Control Commission, face more stringent restrictions than the online sportsbooks or brick-and-mortar sportsbooks under Ohio’s sports wagering law, or HB 29.
Under the Ohio law, kiosk offerings are limited to four kinds of wagers. Those include moneyline bets, or the odds to win; bets on the over-under of the outcome; bets on the spread of it; and parlays, or combined bets, with four or less parts to them.
Bettors also can’t wager more than $700 per calendar week across all licensed kiosks in the Buckeye state, according to the law.
Some businesses say it will be a slower roll out
Generally, the licenses are out to those who wanted them before Jan. 1. The Ohio Casino Control Commission held its final meeting of the year Wednesday.
Chicken-wing chain Roosters, which has more than 30 locations across Ohio, applied for kiosk licenses just in case. But Roosters President Dan Ponton said it’s a game of wait-and-see for all of its Ohio restaurants.
“My philosophy has always been anything new, I just kind of stay away from until the dust settles,” Ponton said.
Roosters will reevaluate sports gambling after March Madness, Ponton said. He is not worried about missing out on the games that are won and lost in the early months of the year — Roosters will be busy already, he said, and throwing in-store sports betting would be too much with some lingering questions.
One of Ponton’s questions is whether Ohio bettors will ultimately wager at in-store kiosks.
Online sportsbooks, which are under a different kind of license, have largely signaled they are ready to kick off right at midnight Sunday. A deluge of advertisements — some promising “free bets” to early-birds who sign on with their sportsbook app — have taken over physical billboards, television and social media.
“About 90% of wagers will be placed online,” said Matt Schuler, the executive director of the Ohio Casino Control Commission. “It is going to be the robust part of this market.”
Two big grocery chains in the region wielding licenses said they won’t be ready to kick off on New Year’s Day, either. In a statement, a spokesperson for Cincinnati-based Kroger said the company is “still doing our due diligence for the program,” and a spokesperson for Giant Eagle said in a statement the company will launch some time in 2023, without clarity on when.
When the Ohio State Buckeyes face off against the Georgia Bulldogs on New Year’s Eve, the Peach Bowl will miss legalized sports gambling in Ohio by a few hours, give or take. Still, The O on Lane had yet to settle on a proprietor for their kiosks as of mid-December but said it wants to be ready to take advantage of winter games.
“We want to be ready to go,” owner Ed Gaughan said. “We’re getting some mixed signals.”
Elys Game Technology, which works with gaming technology for “non-conventional” venues like bars and restaurants, will bring software to at least ten central Ohio establishments as of mid-December. Michele Ciavarella, the executive chairman for Elys, said in an interview he also believes “it’s going to be a staggered start for many.”
Do you believe you have a gambling problem? Click here for a list of resources, or call the Ohio Problem Gambling Hotline at 800-589-9966.