Ohio sports betting goes live amid widespread optimism

January 19, 2023 Ohio State Flag - Casino Genie

Just over a year after the signing of legislation to permit sports betting in the Buckeye state, Ohio sports betting finally went live at midnight on New Year’s Day, completing a journey that lawmakers in the state hope will see major cash revenues. Sixteen mobile sportsbooks and a further twelve brick-and-mortar locations took their first bets in the state on the first day of the new year, and there are set to be more options for Ohioans as the state has made provision for further sportsbook kiosks in a range of locations.

Purportedly, the first bet in the state was made by former Cincinnatti Reds head coach and player Pete Rose, who placed a bet at midnight through the sportsbook at the city’s Hard Rock casino. At this stage, it’s not known whether that really was the state’s first legal sports bet, but it’s a nice story. Indeed, at this stage we don’t know much at all about the early numbers, but sportsbook representatives are in agreement that this was a comparatively successful launch.

The numbers we do know are the forecasts for what might be achieved in 2023 if the sportsbooks have a successful year. Ohio sports betting is expected to see as much as $8 billion placed on various markets. The hope is that that will translate to $50 million in betting tax revenue, the vast majority of which will go into education in the state – a windfall that will certainly be welcomed by educators during a period of what might otherwise be significant austerity.

The January date set for the first sports bets does mean that the majority of the NFL season has been missed by bettors, but sportsbooks were live in time for the Cleveland Browns’ penultimate game of a frustrating season. The Browns won comfortably at the Washington Commanders, elevating their record to 7-9 for the season, and likely seeing some early returns for fans who backed the local team with their first legal sports bets.

Meanwhile, the Cincinnatti Bengals saw their Monday night game against the Buffalo Bills called to an early halt due to a horrific injury suffered by Bills safety Damar Hamlin. At this stage, it is not known when the game may be concluded, and further clarification is presumed unlikely until it is known whether Hamlin will come through what is understood to have been a cardiac arrest.

The Bengals will close out their regular season with the visit of the Baltimore Ravens this Sunday. Pending a conclusion to the unfinished game against the Bills, this may see the Ohioan team reach the postseason for a second consecutive season after last year’s surprise appearance in the Super Bowl. Another run in the playoffs would represent a significant boost for revenues in the state as fans get behind the Bengals to go one step further. Last season, they were less than a minute from picking up a first Vince Lombardi trophy, and sports bettors in the state would be delighted to have a chance to back them to go one better this time.

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