It only made sense for Josh Petrusko and a few of his finance and accounting business associates to think about investing in the sports betting industry, Ohio’s most talked about new business sector.
“It took only about a month,” Petrusko told OH Bets when asked about developing the idea for Iron Gate Gaming, which is identified as a full-service proprietor for Type C sports gaming hosts in Ohio. Petrusko is the managing director of the new company, which supplies self-service betting kiosks to sports bars and restaurants across Ohio.
Petrusko, the owner of Youngstown sports bar Lanai Lounge, realized that he didn’t just want the opportunity to offer patrons of his establishment a chance to place sports wagers when it officially becomes an option in Ohio. News of Gov. Mike DeWine signing HB 29, which legalized retail and mobile sportsbooks, got him thinking about how else could he become involved in the industry beyond investing in betting kiosks for his own business.
Realizing there would be a need for someone to supply bars and restaurants with the self-service kiosks, Petrusko and his associates determined that they could establish a company to deliver and manage such machines to these establishments. Iron Gate Gaming is one of several Ohio-based businesses that have been created this year as a direct result of sports betting being legalized in the Buckeye State.
“We’ve always looked at ways where we could supply bar owners like ourselves,” Petrusko said. “And it’s been in the back of our minds to get into this [sports betting] business.”
Readying for universal launch date
Sports betting in Ohio is scheduled to launch on Jan. 1, 2023. Iron Gate Gaming has until Dec. 2 to fill orders so that establishments can have kiosks operational by the deadline set forth by the Ohio Casino Control Commission’s Sports Gaming Implementation Timeline. Dec. 2 is not only the last day for the commission to verify that equipment meets the state requirements, but it’s also the last deadline listed on the calendar before that Jan. 1 universal start date.
The commission is currently reviewing sports betting license applications. Iron Gate Gaming applied for a sports betting license during the designated application window, and Petrusko said it’s still awaiting word from the commission on approval. The company expected to have heard by now, but Petrusko said the commission hasn’t announced any Type C sports betting licensing news yet.
While they wait, Iron Gate Gaming staff, which currently totals 10 office workers and five technicians, is in the process of establishing relationships with potential clients across the state. Petrusko said Iron Gate already has commitments to supply 100 self-service kiosks to bars and restaurants — most of which are in the same Youngstown area where the Iron Gate office is located.
Petrusko said the plan is to prioritize supplying the self-service kiosks locally before branching out into bars and restaurants across the state in areas such as Toledo, Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Columbus. With the first 100 orders of kiosks already spoken for, Petrusko said Iron Gate plans to have those installed and operational when sports betting begins on Jan. 1.
“Two kiosks will take up six square feet of their bars and restaurants and that can earn them thousands of dollars a month in extra revenue,” Petrusko said. “We’re talking two kiosks basically taking up two bar seats.”
Plenty of potential business
Iron Gate Gaming is ordering the kiosks from a Las Vegas-based company that supplies similar machines to many of the casinos along the Las Vegas Strip. Iron Gate has plans to order at least another 100 before the end of the year.
Besides supplying bars and restaurants with kiosks, Iron Gate Gaming is also offering the establishments the opportunity to order sports tickers that will provide live info such as scores and odds for patrons to view. Additionally, Petrusko said they’re looking to provide special ATMs to be used for cashing out winning tickets up to $500.
All in all, Petrusko is optimistic about the new business venture.
“There’s no benchmark,” Petrusko said. “Who knows? I don’t know. This is a longterm investment. As a business, this makes sense.
“It took a long time before Ohio passed it. We’re in it for the long haul.”
Photo courtesy of Iron Gate Gaming