Ohio sportsbook partner licenses advance as major sports teams earn accreditation

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Ohio regulators advanced a new crop of high-profile online and retail sportsbook partners Wednesday ahead of the state’s scheduled Jan. 1, 2023 launch.

The deals clear one more hurdle for online as well as retail sportsbooks to go live on the state’s universal launch on New Year’s Day. Wednesday’s approvals follow a similar move to clear another wave of applicants in recent weeks.

The Ohio Casino Control Commission (OCCC) advanced all applicants at its Thursday meeting unanimously and without debate.

Wednesday’s votes technically clear sportsbooks’ operating partners, not the books themselves. All Ohio sportsbook operators will have to still earn final licensure and clear independent lab testing, among other certifications, though all major applicants are expected to earn approval.

Ohio’s 2021 sports betting law requires sportsbook operators to partner with certain Ohio entities including professional sports teams or brick-and-mortar gaming facilities before going live. Both the books and their partners must be approved by the OCCC.

The NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets, NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers, MLB’s Cleveland Guardians and MLS’ FC Cincinnati were all approved for both online and retail sportsbooks Wednesday.

The Blue Jackets will partner with both BetFanatics and exchange wagering platform Prophet Exchange for online licenses as well as BetFanatics for an in-stadium sportsbook. The Cavaliers are set to partner with Fubo Sportsbook for online wagering and Caesars for an in-stadium sportsbook.

The Guardians also plan to open a BetFanatics in-stadium sportsbook while partnering with bet365 for statewide mobile wagering. FC Cincinnati will partner with SuperBook for both online and in-stadium books.

The Cincinnati Bengals, who are partnered with Betfred, earned approval for online sports betting but did not apply to open an in-stadium book. Bengals officials Wednesday said NFL rules prohibit accepting in-person bets within a physical stadium but said bettors would be able to wager with Betfred (and the state’s other online books) through mobile apps on their phones.

The NFL has permitted the Arizona Cardinals to open a retail sportsbook near their home stadium, the league’s first, and the Washington Commanders have also applied for a similar offering in Maryland. The NFL’s Cleveland Browns, who are partnered with Bally Bet for online wagering, have already earned approval for a retail book near their stadium.

OCCC commissioners also approved licenses for five additional brick-and-mortar gaming facilities, clearing one more hurdle for online and in-person sportsbook openings for their respective partners.

Wednesday’s approvals included MGM Northfield Park; Eldorado Gaming Scioto Downs; Penn Entertainment’s Hollywood Casino Columbus and Hollywood Gaming at Dayton Raceway; and Boyd Gaming’s Belterra Park Cincinnati. All five are set to open sportsbooks affiliated with their respective operating parent companies; BetMGM, Caesars, Barstool and FanDuel.

Two additional Penn Entertainment casinos had previously earned approval for online sports betting licenses, which are set to go to DraftKings and PointsBet, respectively. Penn is projected to open Barstool-branded retail sportsbooks at all four of its Ohio properties.

Along with Browns, the OCCC previously approved Muirfield Village Golf Club, partnered with betPARX and host of an annual PGA Tour event, for an online and retail license.

Ohio regulators are set to approve a few remaining sportsbook partners in the coming weeks and then begin licensing the actual sports betting operators shortly thereafter. As many as 26 online sportsbooks could go live early next year.

The OCCC Wednesday also advanced licenses for several hundred more betting kiosks at bars, restaurants and other businesses throughout the state. Ohio will be the first state with mobile wagering, in-stadium sportsbooks and betting kiosks at bars and restaurants.

About the author

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Ryan Butler

Ryan is a veteran sports betting and iGaming regulation and breaking news journalist based in the US. A two-time Associated Press Sports Editors award winner, he has reported on sports and politics since 2012. He has covered the gaming industry since 2018. Ryan graduated from the University of Florida with a major in Journalism and a minor in Sport Management.

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