For Ohio’s four casinos, 2023 is officially the best year the quartet has ever had in terms of revenue. For Ohio’s legal sports betting industry, though, the main refrain from one of The Carpenters’ greatest hits applies; we’ve only just begun.
Ohio casinos closed out a second consecutive billion-dollar year via a new revenue record for December. Sportsbooks had one of their strongest months as well in their relatively short history.
December casino revenue pushes to new heights in Ohio
According to the December 2023 revenue report by the Ohio Casino Control Commission (OCCC), the four casinos in Ohio won over $91.7 million from guests playing poker, slots, and table games. That’s now the largest revenue total for December of any year for Ohio casinos.
That revenue total is also the new December record by a significant 8.6% margin compared to December 2022’s $83.8 million. With December now in the books, the OCCC can start to reflect on 2023 as a whole.
For the quartet of casinos, 2023 was remarkable. The foursome combined to eclipse a billion dollars in revenue and slightly bested their 2022 performance. Although the Ohio Dept. of Taxation has not yet posted casino tax numbers for 2023, those should be forthcoming soon now that the OCCC has reported figures for December.
For Ohio’s legal sportsbooks, 2023 will always be remarkable because it was their first year. The book is now closed on that period and it’s possible to draw some conclusions from the numbers.
Legal sports betting concludes first calendar year in Ohio
For Ohio’s Class A and Class B sports betting licensees, December was a strong end to the year. The gross win for the state’s legal sportsbooks (excluding Class C kiosks inside businesses throughout the state) amounted to the third-highest monthly total yet at more than $92.1 million.
To date, only March 2023’s $94.8 million and January 2023’s $209.5 million stand taller. Bettors gambled over $829.9 million on sports in December, meaning Ohio’s online and physical sportsbooks won about 11.1% of that money.
With December’s totals factored in, Ohio’s Class A and Class B sportsbooks took over $7.5 billion in wagers during their first calendar year. The books won about 12.4% or more than $939.1 million of that money.
After taking the allowable deductions, that translated to just under $937 million in taxable revenue. Thus, Ohio reaped about $187.3 million in tax revenue from its first calendar year of legal sports betting. Ohio taxes adjusted revenue from such gaming at a 20% rate.
Final 2023 numbers bode well for Ohio’s gambling industry
Naturally, it’s hard to speak in any fashion but glowingly about a revenue record year for Ohio’s casinos. Important context provides some clarity, however. The rate of growth from 2022 to 2023 slowed compared to 2021 to 2022.
Some of that is because Ohio casinos were still dealing with some COVID-19 pandemic capacity restrictions in parts of 2021. Now that the casinos have eclipsed $1 billion in revenue in consecutive years, the question becomes how they get to their first $1.1 billion year.
They face the same challenges that many other entertainment businesses encounter in 2024. Consumers’ budgetary concerns and the plethora of options are among them. There are just as many questions around the state’s legal sports betting industry in its second year.
January 2023 contained the launch of legal sports betting in Ohio, something sportsbooks will never experience again. When January 2024 numbers come out, it will be possible to ascertain how much that newness was worth.
Previous projections had Ohioans wagering between $9 and $12 billion via the state’s licensed sportsbooks within the first 18 months. With $7.5 billion already in the books, the low end of that projection is possible.
At the same time, Ohio’s final 2023 numbers were not strong enough to rank the state’s sports betting industry among the top five most lucrative for the year. While that might sound like a lofty goal, it’s achievable.
Attracting new customers and keeping others engaged is a perpetual struggle for sportsbooks anywhere. Ohio’s licensees, though, have only just begun.