Ohio sports betting launch continues with nation’s latest in-stadium sportsbook

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Caesars commemorated its retail sportsbook at Cleveland’s Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse Monday, formally opening the nation’s newest in-stadium sportsbook.

Ohio’s expansive sports betting rollout continued this week with the Caesars-branded book at the home stadium of the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers. Ohio joins more than 20 other states with some form of legal online sports betting but is among the first to christen an in-stadium sportsbook.

“The launch of legalized sports betting in Ohio and the grand opening of Caesars Sportsbook at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse is a historic moment for our franchise, Northeast Ohio and the entire state,” said Cleveland Cavaliers CEO Nic Barlage in a statement. “It is with great pride and responsibility that we open the first sportsbook in a sports venue in Ohio.”

The other jurisdictions to open or approve in-person sportsbooks at a professional team sports venue are Washington DC, Arizona, Illinois and Maryland.

Less than five years ago legal in-stadium sportsbooks at American sports venues seemed impossible. Now a handful have opened across the country, with more set to open in the aforementioned jurisdictions.

Online sports betting launch

Monday’s ribbon cutting comes the day after Ohio’s first mobile sportsbooks launched. Most of the nation’s leading mobile sportsbooks by handle market share started taking bets shortly after midnight the morning of Jan. 1, the earliest they were permitted to do so.

Ohio’s sports betting launch came just moments after the Ohio State Buckeyes team narrowly lost to the University of Georgia in the college football playoff semifinals.

The Buckeye State has one of the most robust arrays of betting options and offerings of any of the more than 30 states with at least one retail or online betting option.

Eligible in-state bettors can wager on Ohio college sports teams such as the Buckeyes. Like other legal sports betting markets, Ohio prohibits individual player prop bets for college athletes such as passing yards or points scored.

Ohio bettors are set to have at least a dozen legal mobile betting options by the coming months with potentially 20 or more by year’s end. That includes Caesars, as well as other market share leaders BetMGM, FanDuel and DraftKings.

These online books are expected to make up the lion’s share of overall handle, but Ohio will also have a robust roster of in-person betting options. Along with in-person sportsbooks at stadiums as well as casinos, Ohio could see more than 1,000 betting kiosks open in the state at businesses including grocery stores and restaurants.

In-stadium options grow

The Caesars book at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse will have plenty of company with other in-stadium betting options in the state.

While the Cavaliers have the distinction of the first pro sports team to play a game in Ohio with an in-stadium book, it is joined by the BetMGM retail book at Great American Ballpark, home of MLB’s Cincinnati Reds. The NHL’s Colombus Blue Jackets, MLB’s Cleveland Guardians and MLS’ Colombus Crew also have in-stadium sportsbook plans.

The NFL’s Cleveland Browns also plan to open a sportsbook adjacent to their home venue. NFL rules prohibit retail books physically within home playing venues but teams are allowed to open such facilities nearby; the Arizona Cardinals already have done so and the Washington Commanders are set to follow this year.

In Illinois, FanDuel is branding a retail book at the United Center while a DraftKings book is set to open at the Chicago Cubs’ Wrigley Field. A future Chicago Bears stadium could also incorporate a retail book.

The first in-stadium sportsbook opened in Washington DC at Capital One Arena, home to the NBA’s Washington Wizards and NHL’s Washington Capitals, in 2021.

In-stadium books are among the clearest indicator of the growing relationship between legal sports betting and professional leagues. The NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL fought legal sports betting for years in court; with a growing number of partnerships and marketing deals with regulated books, the leagues are now among the biggest beneficiaries of legal wagering.

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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