OCCC’s Schuler Sets Sights On Seeing Ohio’s Sports Betting Launch by Jan. 1

OCCC's Schuler discusses Ohio's sports betting launch.
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Longer work days emerged for Ohio Casino Control Commission Executive Director Matt Schuler and his staff  not long after the ink had dried from Gov. Mike DeWine signing bill HB 29 into law to legalize sports betting in Ohio.

The long work days are probably going to remain until late in the year, or whenever the day arrives when Ohio residents will be able to place a legal wager on sports in the Buckeye state. The law states that legal sports betting must be launched by Jan. 1, 2023.

“January 1 is not an arbitrary date,” said Schuler, referencing the deadline by which Ohio will become the latest state to launch sports wagering.

The news that lawmakers and DeWine had made sports betting legal created plenty of excitement statewide, receiving widespread media attention. It was also the kind of information that had people hoping, if not believing, that they could soon begin placing bets at the nearest brick-and-mortar casino, or simply by going online using their cell phones.

That isn’t the case, however, and won’t be anytime soon.

As Schuler told OH Bets Monday, many steps will be required to reach the point when people can legally wager on sports in Ohio.

Early stages of the process

Schuler said “it’s a process” that takes time before Ohioans will finally be able to place a bet. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t hear the requests to get the process done sooner, rather than later.

“Some people are saying, ‘Can you get it going by the [2022] NFL kickoff?’” Schuler said. His response in such conversations has been simply, “No.”

Schuler explains that it basically requires a 12-month plan to have sports betting up and running. He added that such a time frame is based on all the steps taking place as planned without encountering any significant setbacks or delays along the way.

So it’s unlikely Ohioans will be able to bet in the fall on the Cincinnati Bengals, who will be coming off of a Super Bowl LVI appearance, or on the state’s other NFL franchise, the Cleveland Browns.

 

More rules to be released for public comment

The OCCC, which is responsible for overseeing sports betting in Ohio, is at the stage where it is creating the regulations and releasing batches of rules to be looked over by stakeholders, gaming operators like DraftKings and FanDuel, or anyone else interested in following the time-consuming process. The OCCC has already released three batches of rules in which each set was opened for public comment for approximately two weeks. Batch 3, released on Jan. 31, is open for comment until Friday.

“I anticipate at least a few more batches as we go through this process,” Schuler said.

Each set of rules focuses on different aspects of sports betting. Batch 1 focused on provisional licensing and testing standards. Batch 2 covered licensing for mobile and retail sportsbooks, general wagering provisions, and equipment. Batch 3 addressed voluntary sports betting exclusion programs and Type C licenses.

Schuler said it will take 180 days for a batch of rules to go from being released for public comment to the point of receiving final approval. The hope is to have all the batches receive approval during the summer, which could lead to the start of the application process in the fall for the various sports betting licenses. 

Conducting background checks on all the applicants applying for sports betting licenses will also require time.

Ohio looking to join its neighbors

Ohio’s neighboring states Michigan, Indiana, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania already have sports betting up and running. Schuler, who has been in his role with the OCCC since 2011, said Ohio officials have been “immersed in very much every other state” to review how they rolled out sports betting. They took note of what the other states went through in order to reach the finish line to have sports betting in operation.

He said New Jersey has been a particular focus, because it was the first to launch. Of the border states, Schuler said Ohio’s rules for sports betting are more similar to those in place in Indiana than elsewhere, based upon how the government has things set up.

With more than 30 states already having some form of sports betting, Schuler said it has been a smooth experience for the OCCC to get to this point. You don’t have to remind him that it’s still a long way away before Ohio becomes that next player in sports betting.

Just remember the date.

“Sports gaming will go live on Jan. 1,” he said.

Photo: Shutterstock

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