Ohio’s sports betting model differs from others across the country, as the state will allow over 1,000 sports betting kiosks at various locations like bowling alleys, restaurants, bars, and grocery stores.
Mobile sports betting and retail wagering at casinos will also be available beginning on Jan. 1, but the widespread access to kiosks makes Ohio’s model unique. With only days until the launch of legal sports betting platforms in Ohio, however, there are still plenty of unknowns about how the kiosk rollout will look.
“Proprietors can launch January 1, and it will be up to each proprietor and host location to determine their individual start dates,” Danielle Frizzi-Babb, the Ohio Lottery’s deputy director of communications, told OH Bets in an email earlier this month. “Some proprietors have indicated that they plan to launch at the start, while others will be launching at later dates in the spring.”
Documenting the exact plans for the hundreds of Ohio small businesses expected to launch sports betting kiosk operations is a nearly impossible task, but OH Bets did track down some details related to the rollout.
No need to rush
ELYS Game Technology is among the companies helping to provide self-service betting kiosks to Ohio businesses.
“I keep telling folks, ‘That’s not a date that you have to start on. It just simply says nobody can start before Jan. 1. You can start any time after,’” said Michele Ciavarella, the company’s executive chairman.
Given the time needed to install the kiosks and make sure the technology works, Ciavarella preaches patience to Ohio businesses. While some businesses are eager to start immediately, those working with ELYS will be told that a more gradual, calculated approach works better.
Ciavarella wants to take time to learn more about what Ohio sports betting customers are like. He plans to keep tabs on their betting behavior before helping additional businesses go live with their kiosks.
He also says it’s been an educational adjustment for some businesses, stressing that sports betting kiosks aren’t the same as lottery machines. With sports betting, there’s additional risk for businesses, as bettors can win more consistently.
As businesses grapple with the education element, it’s expected that some entities will be content to wait weeks or months after the initial Jan. 1 launch to get their kiosks up and running.
Kroger, Giant Eagle quiet on launch date
Small businesses aren’t the only Ohio entities launching sports betting kiosks, and they also won’t be the only ones to wait until after Jan. 1 to go live. Kroger isn’t expected to launch its kiosk offerings on Jan. 1 and Giant Eagle may also push back its launch, although the latter company wasn’t willing to provide a clear timeline when asked for comment.
“At Giant Eagle, we are excited by the opportunity to introduce the convenience of sports betting kiosks in 12 select Ohio supermarket locations in 2023,” a company spokesperson told OH Bets. “As we move forward in the process of launching sports betting kiosks, we will continue to follow all state regulations regarding gameplay.”
Ciavarella feels confident that retail kiosk expansion will occur across the U.S. in the next three to five years, and he could see other states offering sports betting in gas stations and grocery stores in the future. In Europe, Ciavarella says it’s common to have retail sports betting access in places like coffee shops.
“That’s the next wave of expansion throughout the U.S.,” Ciavarella said.
Ohio can certainly pave the way for that model, as hundreds of businesses are expected to offer sports betting kiosks at some point in 2023. Some other jurisdictions, including Washington, D.C., have lottery-operated sports betting kiosks in various locations across the District.
Concerns with kiosks
Widespread sports betting increases concern among problem gambling experts, and Ohio’s launch certainly poses some questions. Will problem gambling issues rise in Ohio with mobile sports betting and multiple retail wagering options available? And how will sports betting kiosk access at gas stations and grocery stores impact problem gambling?
— Kenneth P. Vogel (@kenvogel) December 4, 2022
The kiosks have some limits, though. A self-service kiosk can’t accept wagers from an individual bettor of more than $700 in a calendar week. Additionally, if a bettor wins a significant amount of money at a kiosk and doesn’t feel comfortable cashing out their wager at the kiosk, they can reach out to regional Ohio Lottery offices to collect their winnings.
“If you win a large jackpot, there’s a huge danger that somebody’s watching you and they are going to wait until you drive a few blocks away,” Bill Coley, a former Ohio state senator who served as president of the National Council of Legislators From Gaming States, told OH Bets. “They wait until you cash the prize in and then they might pretend to accidentally rear end your car. It absolutely happens and there is tremendous danger.
“I strongly encourage everyone who is fortunate to win a large jackpot to accept the payment in an electronic form [and] let them deposit the money into your bank amount or deposit the money to your bank card. That way, no one will rob you.”
While the hypothetical car robbery is an extreme example, the lottery offering the ability to pick up winnings elsewhere is a thoughtful precaution.
Photo: Eric Seals/USA TODAY