The universal launch date for sports wagering in Ohio is no longer a mystery. New Year’s Day, 2023, is when the Buckeye State will join more than two dozen others across the country in allowing for sports betting to take place inside state lines.
Not only will individuals be able to place a sports bet on their mobile devices anywhere across the state, they’ll be able to place wagers on sports in person at Las Vegas-style sportsbooks that are being constructed inside the casinos/racinos in Ohio.
Alex Rangel, Hollywood Casino Toledo’s vice president of marketing, said the 125,000-square-foot casino located in northwest Ohio, along with the other three Penn National Gaming properties in the state, will have sportsbooks on site by the time sports wagering becomes a reality on Jan. 1.
Rangel’s interactions with patrons at the casino have convinced him that the public is longing to have mobile sportsbooks in Ohio.
“We get asked every single day about it from our guests,” Rangel said. “It’s been going that way for years, ‘When are you guys going to get sports betting?’… Since people heard [HB 29] passed, that just ratcheted up that much more. Since people don’t necessarily follow the dates, they were asking when it’s going to start. They really wanted it to start by the start of football.”
A buffet of sports betting
Ohioans will not have the opportunity to place wagers on sports inside the state’s borders when the NFL season begins. Ohio Casino Control Commission Executive Director Matt Schuler recently announced the Jan. 1 universal launch date, giving the 11 casinos/racinos located throughout the state just over six months to create brick-and-mortar sportsbooks on their grounds.
@stoolpresidente Barstool SportsBook will be coming to Hollywood Casino Toledo,Ohio…Try to make it out, great sports town with plenty of pizza joints
— Scott Budy (@Argola) June 3, 2022
Plans for a Barstool Sportsbook at Hollywood Casino Toledo involve a buildout of the book in an area that was previously a buffet restaurant that seated up to 300 customers. The restaurant never reopened after closing due to COVID-19 restrictions and has been used as a training room for new table-game employees.
“Obviously, post-pandemic, buffets really didn’t come back,” Rangel said. “It’s going to be a complete redesign. You won’t be able to recognize the place. It’s going to be more open. It’s going to have a stadium feel.”
PNG building four sportsbooks in Ohio
Rangel said the buildout of the sportsbook at Hollywood Casino Toledo will be the largest of the four Hollywood properties because the other sites have already utilized their space previously used for buffets for other purposes. The sportsbook in Toledo will include a bar, three-tier-level seating, a pair of 22-foot-long jumbo screens, and “TVs everywhere.” Betting windows will be located near the sportsbook’s entrance, and 30 self-service betting kiosks will be available throughout the casino.
There are also plans to have an area inside the sportsbook where patrons will be able to play tailgate games, such as cornhole. Rangel said they’re in the final stages of designing the layout and are looking to begin construction in early July.
“We’re looking at a six-month buildout to fall in line with the launch,” Rangel said.
Hollywood Casino Columbus, Hollywood Gaming at Dayton Raceway, and Hollywood Gaming at Mahoning Valley Race Course will also have Barstool Sportsbooks constructed on site and are on a similar buildout timeline to that of Toledo, according to Rangel.
Different stages of developing sportsbooks
JACK Entertainment has plans for sportsbooks at JACK Cleveland Casino and JACK Thistledown Racino in North Randall. The amenities for each site will include video walls for viewing sports — particularly Cleveland sports teams — and comfortable seating.
— JACK Cleveland (@JACKCleCasino) June 3, 2022
Hard Rock Casino Cincinnati has plans for a sportsbook to be built near the casino’s front entrance, located right next to the Hard Rock Cafe Bar. It will be a setup similar to the recently opened sports bar at Hard Rock Casino Northern Indiana.
Representatives of Miami Valley Gaming and Belterra Park Cincinnati told OH Bets that plans to build brick-and-mortar sportsbooks at their respective locations have not been announced yet. A Miami Valley Gaming representative said a lack of space for a brick-and-mortar sportsbook buildout and recent funds spent to build a new gaming patio are reasons why it isn’t likely to see a buildout taking place anytime soon. It was noted that patrons will still be able to place bets on sports with their cell phones while watching sports at the bar located near the center of the racino.
Belterra Park Cincinnati also has limited space, but has a huge sports bar, Stadium Sports Bar & Grill, which has more than 50 HDTVs for sports viewing where patrons will also be able to place sports bets via cell phones.
MGM Northfield Park has converted what was previously a gift shop into a TAP Sports Bar. No announcement has been made as to whether a brick-and-mortar sportsbook will also be built at the racino.
Sportsbooks/lounges at sports centers
Plans are also in the works to build sportsbooks or lounges at some of the professional sports venues in Ohio.
The Cleveland Browns have a partnership deal with Bally’s that includes having a Bally’s branded lounge at FirstEnergy Stadium. The Cleveland Cavaliers have partnership deals with Caesars Sportsbook Ohio and Fubo Gaming that include building retail sportsbooks/lounges inside Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse. Also, the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton has a partnership deal with Rush Street Interactive that includes building an RSI sportsbook at the Hall of Fame Village’s Fan Engagement Zone.
Once sports betting goes live in the Buckeye State, the expectation is that betting volume, both online and in person, will be substantial.
“We’re optimistic as a whole that Ohio is going to be a very healthy market, being the seventh-largest state in the country,” Rangel said.