Cavaliers, Bengals, Guardians Approved For Sports Betting Licenses

State commission also green-lights hundreds of smaller operators
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The Ohio Casino Control Commission (OCCC) approved sports betting licenses for 10 sports gaming proprietor and four sports gaming supplier applicants during its Wednesday morning meeting in Columbus.

The Cleveland Cavaliers, Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Guardians, Columbus Blue Jackets, and the Football Club of Cincinnati were among those approved for sports gaming proprietor licenses. Also approved for the same type of license were MGM Northfield Park, Eldorado Gaming at Scioto Downs, Hollywood Casino Columbus, Hollywood Gaming at Dayton Raceway, and Belterra Park in Cincinnati.

Representatives from each of the professional sports organizations, casinos, and racinos seeking approval attended the commission’s nearly 90-minute meeting. All but the Bengals applied for Type A and Type B licenses. Type A licenses allow for the operation of online sportsbooks, while Type B licenses cover brick-and-mortar locations that offer betting windows and sports betting terminals.

At Wednesday’s meeting, a Bengals official explained that the NFL club is holding off on applying for a Type B license for now, citing the team’s belief that “the NFL does not allow in-person sports betting at any stadium.” Nonetheless, their AFC North rival Cleveland Browns have already been approved for Type A and Type B licenses and have a long-term partnership with Bally’s Interactive that includes building a branded lounge at FirstEnergy Stadium.

The Bengals and FC Cincinnati had been up for approval during the OCCC’s meeting on Sept. 7, but the commission opted not to vote on their approval since neither organization had anyone at the meeting to speak on its behalf. The Cincinnati Reds, Columbus Crew, Cleveland Browns, and Muirfield Village Golf Club, which hosts the PGA Tour’s Memorial Tournament, were approved for sports wagering licenses during that meeting.

GeoComply Solutions, GAN Nevada, SUZOHAPP Gaming Solutions, and Sportradar Solutions also received approval on Wednesday for sports gaming supplier licenses.

Sports betting in Ohio became legal when Gov. Mike DeWine signed HB 29 on Dec. 22, 2021. Sports betting is to be up and running on Jan. 1, 2023.

311 approved for Type C licenses

The commission approved another 311 applicants for Type C sports betting licenses, raising the total number of applicants approved for Type C licenses to 811. Type C license holders include restaurants, sports bars, and supermarkets that intend to install self-service sports betting kiosks.

Matt Schuler, the OCCC’s executive director, noted that out of a total of 1,376 pre-approved businesses for Type C licenses by the Ohio Lottery Commission, 550 still have not applied for approval. Schuler added that there’s still time for those pre-approved businesses to apply for Type C licenses and be assured the opportunity to start offering wagers on Jan. 1.

The OCCC initially approved a group of 200 applicants for Type C licenses in mid-August.

Responsible gambling on the agenda

Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services Director Lori Criss and others concerned about problem gambling talked to the commission about September being Responsible Gambling Education Month.

Criss said her agency is working to implement programs, including “statewide tele-health services,” that will address problem gambling issues that may come about due to sports betting. She added that the department is working with  partners on improving voluntary exclusion programs and would hope to have such offerings available ahead of the Jan. 1 launch.

“We’re very excited about the opportunities that this presents and we’re working on getting this up and running at least a month before sports betting goes live,” Criss said.

Photo: Ken Blaze/USA TODAY

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