Kroger Delays Ohio Sports Betting Kiosks Launch

Written By J.R. Duren on December 7, 2022
Major grocer, Kroger won't have their Ohio sports betting kiosks ready by launch date

Hundreds of businesses will offer sports betting kiosks when Ohio sports betting launches on Jan. 1. Kroger will not be one of them.

In an interview with the Cincinnati Business Courier, a Kroger spokesperson said that sports betting kiosks won’t be up and running at its 42 licensed stores across the state. The company’s corporate affairs manager then confirmed it with PlayOhio, saying the company was “still doing” their “due diligence for the program.”

What does Kroger’s backpedaling mean for Ohio?

The news is a bit of a shock because Kroger has 42 licenses for sports betting kiosks, and they’re a prominent grocery chain in the state. Kroger’s 42 licenses are the second-highest total for a grocery store. Giant Eagle has the most kiosks with 65.

Although Kroger operates no stores in Cleveland, the choice to delay kiosk installations will have the biggest impact on three cities:

  1. Cincinnati
  2. Columbus
  3. Dayton

The delay means Kroger will miss out on revenue. Competing grocers and other retailers will capture the bettors that Kroger would’ve gained.

On the bettor side, there are plenty of licensed retailers that will offer kiosks in Cincinnati, Columbus, and Dayton. If Kroger was their preferred sports betting location, it’ll be easy to find alternatives.

More than 800 applicants have licenses. Many licensed retailers are located in the state’s big cities.

A snapshot of the Ohio sports betting kiosk market

When Ohio sports betting launches on Jan. 1, those in the state will have three options for betting:

  1. Online sports betting
  2. Betting at physical sportsbooks
  3. Placing bets at kiosks located in retail businesses

That third option is what makes Ohio a bit of a unicorn in the US sports betting market. The kiosk option has been a hit.

More than 900 businesses are licensed to offer them in the new year. That list includes big retailers like Kroger, but it also includes golf courses, convenience stores, and mom-and-pop taverns.

The kiosks are an alternative for those who may not want to use their phone or drive to a sportsbook to place a bet.

And while the kiosks are a great idea, in theory, their roll-out was a bit of a bumpy one. The Ohio Lottery Commission pre-approved more than 1,200 retailers for kiosk licenses.

The hope was that the pre-approvals would speed up the process. However, when the August application deadline rolled around, just under half of the pre-approved retailers submitted applications.

The Ohio Casino Control Commission (OCCC), which approves the applications, chose to extend the deadline and add more pre-approved businesses. This gave retailers more time to apply.

It wasn’t a big deal for the OCCC–the kiosk applications are relatively easy to process, and the fee is a modest $1,000.

OCCC Director of Communications Jessica Franks told PlayUSA in September that the commission is all about helping businesses. She said the commission was approving licenses as they came in, hoping to work through as many as possible by the end of the year.

How Ohio sports betting kiosks work

Each kiosk will offer four types of bets to Ohio gamblers (but not prop or in-game bets):

  1. Spread
  2. Over-under
  3. Moneyline
  4. Parlays

Businesses with kiosks are not required to pay out winnings–having the cash on hand to pay winning bets puts them at a robbery risk. They can if they want, though.

And if a retailer chooses not to pay the winning bet, the bettor can get their payout at a lottery retailer, the lottery offices, or through the mail.

Photo by PlayUSA
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J.R. Duren

J.R. Duren has covered the gambling beats for more than a dozen states for Catena Media since 2015. His past reporting experience includes two years at the Villages Daily Sun, and he is a first-place winner at the Florida Press Club Excellence in Journalism Contest.

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