Some Ohio business owners are growing frustrated with Intralot, a popular provider of sports betting kiosks in the Buckeye State.
Erik Richman, owner of Varsity Sports Bar and Grill in Cincinnati, told Local 12 that he expected to launch his business’ sports betting operation in early January. Multiple mobile sportsbooks and some retail locations launched their sportsbooks at midnight on Jan. 1, the official launch of legal sports betting in Ohio. Instead, he’s still waiting for official details from Intralot, which provides Richman’s business with its Ohio Lottery and KENO machines, on when he will finally have sports betting offerings added to his existing lottery kiosks.
“It’s frustrating because we did advertise for months leading up to this, saying we were going to have this,” Richman told the Cincinnati news station. “Not only that, they’re advertising it on their website saying we are one of the locations, and we still can’t do it. So, we have people coming in here and getting disappointed about it.”
Phased rollout expected
It’s possible that this frustration stems from simple miscommunication.
Another company that provides sports betting kiosks to Ohio businesses, Elys Game Technology, spoke with OH Bets last year about a phased rollout of kiosks. That was something the company tried to clearly communicate with its customers, including some who might have originally wanted to launch on Jan. 1.
“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.
"Hundreds of small businesses across the state are trying to get their slice of the pie by hosting kiosks in their businesses, but most in Columbus aren’t even activated."
Businesses still waiting for their cut of Ohio sports betting https://t.co/W732qgihv9
— Alfonso Straffon 🇨🇷🇺🇸🇲🇽 (@astraffon) January 19, 2023
Ciavarella wanted a gradual rollout to get a better understanding of Ohio sports bettors. The company shared more specifics earlier this year, saying that it planned to have a phased rollout over the first half of 2023, with roughly 100 host locations in Ohio.
A phased rollout isn’t a surprise, and the Ohio Lottery even shared a press release in late December with those details. Intralot informed the lottery at that time that it wasn’t ready for a Jan. 1 launch, instead hoping for a mid-January launch. It’s unclear if Intralot directly communicated this to all customers or, short of that, whether the possibility of a phased rollout was correctly understood by business owners.
Richman told OH Bets on Monday that he hasn’t received information from Intralot on a projected launch date for sports wagering at his establishment. He’s irritated with the lack of clarity from Intralot, especially with the Cincinnati Bengals advancing through the NFL playoffs. Bengals fans frequent his restaurant, especially on important game days.
Intralot is accustomed to criticism, as the company often draws blame in Washington, D.C., for the poor-performing sports betting app, GambetDC. The lottery-run app is powered by Intralot and has numerous shortcomings, with the app even failing on iOS devices during last year’s Super Bowl.
It’s worth noting that the Local 12 story includes a few inaccuracies, as Intralot is a Greek-based company, not England-based. Additionally, the Ohio Casino Control Commission regulates sports betting in Ohio, not the lottery. The state lottery is involved, however, with kiosks being introduced at small businesses.