Sports Wagering Will Begin In Ohio On Jan. 1

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The first sports wager in Ohio will take place on Jan. 1, 2023.

That’s the date the Ohio Casino Control Commission announced as the universal start date for sports wagering to begin in the Buckeye State during Wednesday’s virtual commission meeting.

“I’m proud to announce that [the]  date is January 1, 2023,” said Matt Schuler, the commission’s executive director. “This date was chosen to give all stakeholders time to start offering gaming on the same date.”  

The long-awaited announcement now gives stakeholders — such as casinos, racinos, bars, and restaurants — ample time to construct sports wagering venues. Schuler said that while online sportsbooks have fewer hurdles to clear prior to launch, state law forbids them from moving forward before other entities.

“Pursuant to House Bill 29, all forms of sports gaming must have the opportunity to launch on the exact same date,” Schuler said. “January 1 will represent the largest expansion of gaming in Ohio’s history, and the largest-ever simultaneous launch of sports gaming in the United States.”

Keeping on the original schedule

Speculation and hopeful thinking had resulted in some suggesting that sports betting could be up and running in Ohio just in time for the start of the NFL and college football seasons in late August or early September.

State Sen. Niraj Antani was among those who had suggested that sports betting could be launched in late fall, ahead of the Jan. 1, 2023, deadline set in HB 29 that legalized sports betting in Ohio.

“I still believe sports betting will be able to start in the late fall, around the World Series,” Antani had told the Dayton Daily News.

However, the commission has always said that building a sports betting framework, which includes establishing rules and regulations, would require several steps to complete.

Launch date ripe for NFL betting

The start date still takes place before the conclusion of the college football and NFL seasons. The first opportunity Ohioans will have to wager on college football will be the four Jan. 2 bowl games: the Tampa Bay Bowl, Goodyear Cotton Bowl, Vrbo Citrus Bowl, and the Rose Bowl.

Placing a wager on college football’s national championship game will be possible in-state since it’s scheduled to take place on Jan. 9, but Ohioans will still have to go outside the state to bet on the College Football Playoff semifinal games that are scheduled for Dec. 31, a day before the launch date.

Opportunities to place bets on NFL games on the universal start date will be plentiful. A total of 14 NFL contests are scheduled for New Year’s Day, including Cleveland playing at Washington. Cincinnati will meet Buffalo on Jan. 2 in a Monday Night Football clash.

The commission also agreed on final approval of Batch 1 of proposed sports rules during Wednesday’s virtual meeting, which lasted roughly 20 minutes. Batch 1 rules address general provisions, provisional licensing, and independent testing laboratories. Approval of Batch 1 rules by the commission allows it to immediately move forward and deliver licensing applications to stakeholders, but stakeholders will not be able to submit licensing applications until June 15.

Batches 2-5 of proposed sports gaming rules still require final approval by the commission.

Path to the finish line

The commission also announced an updated Sports Gaming Implementation Timeline. The following are a list of key implementation dates remaining that lead up to the launch date:

June 15 – (First Application Window Opens) Type A, B, C proprietors; first designated MMSPs; MSPs; and suppliers may submit applications to the commission.

July 15 – (First Application Window Closes) Deadline for proprietors, first designated MMSPs, MSPs, and suppliers.

July 15 – (Second Application Window Opens) Type C sports gaming hosts and second designated MMSPs may submit applications to the commission.

August 1 – (Compliance Document Window Opens) Applicants may submit responsible gaming plans, facility plans, equipment testing, geolocation procedures, house rules, and required procedures.

August 15 – (Second Application Window Closes) Application deadline for Type C sports gaming hosts and second designated MMSPs.

November 2 – (Compliance Document Window Closes) Submission deadline for all final responsible gaming plans, facility plans, geolocation procedures, house rules, and required procedures.

November 2 – (Employee Application Deadline) All standard sports gaming employee applications must be submitted.

December 2 – (Equipment Verification) All equipment is to be ready for commission verification.

January 1, 2023 – (Universal Start Date) All sports gaming readied by authorized providers is to launch.

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Don is an accomplished journalist with a wealth of experience that includes time covering the NFL, NBA, MLB, and major college sports for publications in California, Texas, Indiana, and Ohio. Don is a Hoosier native who has spent the past 20 years residing in the Buckeye State. Don can be reached at demmons@bettercollective.com.

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