Shortly after word got out late last year that Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine had signed HB 29, legalizing sports betting in the Buckeye State, Kamal Morar and some of his associates started to think about how they could venture into this new industry.
Morar, a Dayton-area resident who’s been a radiologist for nearly 20 years, grew up in a household where, for 50 years, the family business has been in the hotel/lodging sector. He’s also part of a group of physicians that has established a telehealth company to prescribe medical marijuana.
The latter venture opened their eyes to thinking they could get involved in some capacity in the sports betting business. Despite none of them having any formal experience in the field.
“The cannabis industry is very similar to the sports betting industry,” said Morar, recognizing that both are basically new business opportunities.
After doing some research on sports betting, Morar and his cohorts figured out where they could fit in as a sports betting startup. That led to the establishment of Wright Bet Ventures. Its website describes as an “Ohio-based company born out of the fast-evolving sports betting expansion in the state of Ohio.”
Wright Bet was created to provide the type of local service that involves installing sports betting equipment in sports bars, restaurants, and any other businesses that are qualified to provide wagering onsite.
“We feel this is a great opportunity on the business side,” said Morar, a co-founder of Wright Bet.
Building an Ohio-based startup
Morar was partially motivated to start his business because he understood plenty of out-of-state firms would be interested in establishing themselves in the fledgling Ohio sports betting marketplace.
“We know non-Ohio companies will be coming into our territory and basically taking away market share,” he said. “So we said, ‘Why not us?’”
But Wright Bet reached outside the state to form a necessary partnership with Elys Game Technology. It’s a global tech company that specializes in online and land-based gaming operations.
In Ohio, Elys will provide self-service sports betting kiosks. Wright Bet will install it there and manage sports bars and restaurants across the state.
Elys Game Technology and Wright Bet Ventures form Ohio partnership https://t.co/T8Y3s5R2vJ
"We were very surprised that there are actually very few companies in the industry that have the technology and focus primarily on this space" Dr. Morar Dr. K. Morar, Co-Founder Wright Bet pic.twitter.com/Uo3OjkOlzv
— Elys Game Technology (@ELYS_Gaming) April 25, 2022
Elys business development manager Tory Key, who is based in the Washington, D.C., area, said projections show Ohio will be a strong market for sports betting, and he considered it a good opportunity for his company to partner with Wright Bet prior to Ohio’s universal launch date of Jan. 1, 2023.
Key said Elys staffers have had training meetings with Morar and his staff. Their task was to teach them how to install, set up, and manage the machines.
It's "time to roll up our sleeves," says #Ohio Casino Control Commission Executive Director Matt Schuler, as the state stays on pace for a Jan. 1 #sportsbetting launch. This and more in @hoosier3232's weekly #OhioSlate: https://t.co/Rd3C7tc2aR
— Sports Handle (@sports_handle) July 21, 2022
State regulations will allow for up to 2,500 Ohio locations to have self-service sports betting kiosks.
Morar said the “eventual goal” for Wright Bet is to install and manage these kiosks at a thousand locations across the state, adding that they’re already holding discussions with restaurant owners about choosing their equipment.
“I think we can get about 300 to 500 [locations] on the launch date of Jan. 1,” Morar said.
Educating proprietors on a new business
The Ohio Casino Control Commission is in the process of receiving sports betting license applications for review. Only when licenses are approved and distributed can Wright Bet begin installing its kiosks.
“As soon as we get approved, we’re going to be installing machines,” Morar said.
Morar said his sports betting kiosks are “unique” from other offerings in that they provide a “build-a-bet” feature. That will allow bettors to place a wager by scanning a QR code. It will eliminate the need to download a sportsbook app on their mobile devices.
The machines will also allow for winning tickets – up to a certain amount – to be redeemed at the kiosks. It will also allow customers to place additional wagers.
Besides taking time to talk with restaurant owners about choosing Wright Bet over other companies, Morar said he’s also “talked to different restaurant owners about the education component of sports betting.”
Sharing profits with others
As an Ohio-based startup, Morar said Wright Bet is looking to share part of its revenue with Miami Valley Child Development Centers Inc., a nonprofit Head Start education program.
Morar said the Miami Valley Child Development Centers are underfunded in part because they don’t qualify for the Ohio Lottery funds that are distributed to school districts throughout the state.
“We anticipate being profitable,” he said. “If it’s only [earning] a dollar, we’re going to share some of that with them. We’re Ohio-based and we want [people] to know that not all of the money is going into some deep pockets.”
Morar has not been one to place bets on sports in the past. The 50-year-old didn’t know much about sports betting before it was legalized. He’s not among those Ohioans who have traveled across the state line to place sports bets in a neighboring state.
Six months shy of Ohioans getting a chance to place legal sports wagers for the first time, Morar is excited about having sports betting in the state.
“I think it’ll be a huge revenue opportunity,” he said. “This is money that would leave our state.”
Image courtesy of Wright Bet