Ohio Sports Betting Will Start ‘Once the Ball Drops in Times Square’

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Ohio Sports Betting Will Start ‘Once the Ball Drops in Times Square’

Revelers won’t be the only ones this New Year’s Eve counting down the seconds until 2023 arrives. In Ohio, it’ll also mark the countdown for the launch of sports betting across the state.

Times Square Ball
Times Square Ball
The Times Square Ball drops as the final seconds of 2021 tick away. On New Year’s Eve, the New York City ball drop will also serve as the countdown for the launch of legal sports betting in Ohio, according to Ohio Casino Control Commission Executive Director Matt Schuler. (Image: Reuters/YouTube)

Whereas states like New York and Louisiana picked mid-morning times for their online launches, and Michigan allowed all of its online sites to start at noon, Ohio Casino Control Commission (OCCC) Executive Director Matt Schuler told the commission Wednesday their state’s launch will start at the earliest possible moment.

The commonsense way that we can do this with absolute clarity is that once the ball drops in Times Square, sports gaming can commence,” Schuler said.

So, while the rest of the country is singing to Guy Lombardo and His Royal Canadians, Ohioans who can’t wait for college football bowl games later in the day will be flocking to their phones to see what bets they can place at 12:01 am ET.

Ohio Faces ‘A Very Steep Hill’

Ohio’s universal sports betting launch will not just be limited to online apps. The retail sportsbooks at casinos, stadiums, and other places can also launch at that time, as well as kiosks at bars across the state. That’s all contingent on the operators and proprietors hitting their appropriate deadlines to submit information to OCCC staffers reviewing applications.

Right now, those staffers are going through 850 total applications. That includes 22 online and 25 retail proprietors, and it also includes 21 mobile and 21 retail operators that will be partnering with the proprietors. There are also 385 applications from key personnel from the entities operating in the state.

The state can license up to 25 mobile operators and 40 retail sportsbooks under the law passed by the state legislature last December.

One segment that Schuler is expecting more applications is the kiosk host category. Presently, the OCCC has received 235 applications from aspiring hosts. However, the Ohio Lottery Commission has pre-qualified more than 1,000 potential applicants. He estimated there might be as many as 2,000 bars and other establishments applying to host kiosks.

The Type C hosts can submit their applications to the OCCC by Aug. 15 and still be able to be up and running on the Jan. 1 start date.

“I consider us looking up a very steep hill,” Schuler said.

Online Self-Exclusion Portal Under Development

OCCC staff also told the commission work is underway on what Chief Technology and Gaming Officer Chris Fleenor said would be an online site where people can sign up for the state’s voluntary exclusion program (VEP). He called it an “e-VEP portal.”

Once the portal is complete, the commission will then vote to approve the sports betting rules for the VEP. That will take place before sports betting launches in Ohio.

“Our hope is to get that up and running at least a month in advance of sports gaming so that people can do so before they’re barraged by advertisements,” Fleenor said.

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