Ohio Sports Betting

Ohio is virtually surrounded by sports betting. Four of the five states that border the Buckeye State have made wagering on sports legal in at least some capacity. So, it’s no surprise that the idea of Ohio sports betting has lawmakers reconsidering things a bit more.

A proposed law in 2020 would’ve brought online and retail sports betting to Ohio, but it stalled in the Ohio Senate. However, lawmakers in both chambers of the Ohio General Assembly do not appear to have given up on the idea of sports betting.

We have all the latest information and news about Ohio’s march toward betting on sports. So, drop a bookmark down, then read below for what’s going on with sports betting in Ohio.

Latest Updates

Updated: October 2021

A group of six lawmakers will form a committee to discuss Ohio sports betting. The committee will consist of state Senators Kirk Schuring, Nathan Manning, and Cecil Thomas. Joining them will be state Representatives Jay Edwards, Bill Seitz, and Adam Miller. 

The committee will produce a conference report of recommended changes to H 29. Each chamber can then vote to accept those changes and send the revised bill to the governor’s desk.

The goal, according to Rep. Seitz, is to get a bill passed by Halloween. 

Is sports betting legal in Ohio?

No. Sports betting is not legal in Ohio. There is no law on the books that would allow Ohioans to bet on sports at this time.

Does Ohio have legal sportsbook apps?

No. There are no legal online sportsbooks active in Ohio right now. Although the fall of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) in 2018 opened the door for both retail and sports betting at the state level, Ohio has not put together a legal and regulatory scheme for online sports betting yet. However, given the contents of previous attempts to legalize in the state, it seems almost certain that any legalization of sports betting in Ohio will include online sportsbooks as part of the new industry.

When will Ohio regulate sports betting?

April 2022 or soon afterward. Due to changes made in the most recent and successful sports betting bill in Ohio, lawmakers have established April 1, 2022 as the earliest possible date that Ohio regulators can issue a sports betting license. However, given the fact that legislators’ timeline for SB176 to move to Gov. Mike DeWine calls for a June 2021 deadline, operators will likely have several months to get their ducks in a row before receiving their licenses. So, we expect that Ohio sports bettors will have options on or about the first day of April 2022.

Can you play daily fantasy sports contests in Ohio?

Yes, you can play daily fantasy sports contests in Ohio as much as you want to. Although the process for bringing DFS into Ohio was not the smoothest of procedures, DFS is completely legal and regulated in the state now. Believe it or not, daily fantasy sports has been legal since 2018. However, Ohio regulators got interrupted by various issues, including the COVID-19 pandemic, and weren’t able to license companies to offer games until February 2020. All that turmoil appears to be in the rearview mirror now, though, so Ohioans can play DFS games until their hearts’ content now. The DFS sites active in Ohio include:

  • DraftKings
  • FanDuel
  • Yahoo! Fantasy Sports
  • StatHero
  • Fantasy Golf’s OG

Who will regulate Ohio sports betting?

The answer to the question about which Ohio agency will regulate sports betting is a trickier one than in most other states. In other areas, there is usually a clear-cut candidate to provide oversight, and no one is surprised when every proposed legislation names that body as the regulatory agency for sports betting.

There are several possibilities in Ohio that could conceivably be named the regulators for sports betting:

  1. Ohio Casino Control Commission (OCCC) — It’s the most obvious choice since the OCCC monitors all activities at casinos in Ohio. Furthermore, the aforementioned DFS licensing and regulation falls under the gaming commission’s umbrella.
  2. Ohio Lottery Commission (OLC) — The failed 2020 sports betting bill (HB194) named the OLC as the sports betting regulator of choice. Whether the lottery commission’s designation will carry over into new legislation is unclear, but the OLC is certainly in the conversation.
  3. Ohio Racing Commission (ORC) — Since there are nearly twice as many racetracks as there are casinos in Ohio, and each racetrack hosts both simulcasting and video lottery terminals, the ORC could credibly claim that its sphere of influence is larger than the other gaming agencies in the state.

In all likelihood, new legislation will name either the OCCC or the OLC as the regulatory body. Between the two, the OLC has the inside track due to its previous mention in that proposed law, but there’s no guarantee that the OCCC won’t come out of these numerous Senate committee meetings with a different arrangement in place with lawmakers.

How old do I have to be to bet on sports in Ohio?

It’s not set in stone, but you will almost certainly need to be 21 or older in order to bet on sports in Ohio. HB194 contained a 21 and up requirement with it, and subsequent bills are likely to do the same. Sports betting is simply not a low-impact gambling activity like lottery or horse racing, and there are only a few places in the US where 18-year-olds can place sports bets. Ohio is unlikely to buck the trend toward 21-year-olds.

Which online sportsbooks will launch in Ohio?

Of course, if Ohio’s sports betting law contains provisions for online sportsbooks (as expected), then the nearest physical location of an Ohio sportsbook will be wherever your body is inside state lines. You’ll be able to place bets in bed, on your couch in front of the TV, or in your favorite sports bar. Best of all, you should have quite the selection of online sportsbooks to use.

Because Ohio is one of the more populous states in the nation, it is certain that every sportsbook app provider in the world will have designs on a presence in the Buckeye State. Furthermore, some of them already have the inside track, due to their partnerships with existing gambling locations in the state.

So, with that in mind, here are our best guesses for which online sportsbooks you can expect to see in Ohio:

  • BetMGM — This is one of the top sportsbook brands in the world, and it already has a foothold in Ohio thanks to its parent company’s (MGM Resorts International) ownership of both MGM Northfield Park and Cedar Downs OTB. So, assuming that Ohio racinos are permitted licenses, BetMGM is certain to be on the list of online sportsbooks.
  • FanDuel — This sportsbook already operates in Ohio as a DFS operator, so it is not unfamiliar territory for the sports betting company. FanDuel also has a fairly deep relationship with Boyd Gaming, which owns Belterra Park in Ohio. So, the path for a FanDuel Sportsbook in Ohio is fairly clear, and FanDuel is not known to be shy about expansion.
  • DraftKings — Like its archrival FanDuel, DraftKings is already providing Ohioans with DFS services. However, DraftKings is also a shoo-in to offer sports betting when it arrives in the Buckeye State due to its market access deal with Penn National Gaming. Penn National owns four different properties in Ohio, including two of its casinos and two racinos.
  • Caesars — The casino rebranded its national sportsbook operation in August of 2021 with aspirations to push across the US by integrating its casino, sportsbook and “experiences” through its vaunted awards program. Eldorado Gaming Scioto Downs in Columbus, a Caesars property, would seem like a logical peg for Ohio.
  • Barstool — Barstool Sports has essentially become the house sports betting brand for Penn National Gaming. Penn officials have already made it clear that Barstool Sports is the planned branding for the company’s sportsbooks. With four different properties in Ohio, Penn National’s installation of Barstool somewhere is a certainty.
  • JACK/Kambi/GAN — JACK Entertainment, which owns the casino in Cleveland and the racino in North Randall, has not announced an external sports betting partner, at least in terms of its operations. Instead, the gaming company has only partnered with sportsbook app designers Kambi and GAN. GAN launched a simulated sportsbook in Ohio in October 2020, so the most likely scenario is that we see an in-house app from JACK, rather than any familiar sportsbook brand.
  • TwinSpires or Betly — The ownership situation at the Miami Valley Gaming and Racing racino presents an interesting quandary for the sports betting prospects. Miami Valley is owned jointly and equally by Churchill Downs and Delaware North. Both companies have sportsbook deals or arrangements of their own, and it’s not clear whether Churchill Downs’ TwinSpires or Delaware North’s Betly will be the sportsbook to operate on the (potential) license at MVGR. If Ohio decides to allow more than one online skin per license, then there may be an easy solution available. If not, however, then there will have to be some serious discussions between the two partners.
  • Hard Rock/SG Digital — Hard Rock has a long history in Ohio. The company owns and operates the casino in Cincinnati. In addition, it was the original operator for the video lottery terminals at the Northfield Park racino (at the time, it was called the Hard Rock Rocksino Northfield Park). So, naturally, Hard Rock has to be on the list of companies that will bring sports betting to Ohio with its own self-branded app.

Do I have to be in Ohio to bet online?

Yes. You will have to be inside the state lines of Ohio in order to place bets online with Ohio sportsbooks. You won’t be able to wager outside the state, even if you’re just across the border.

You may be wondering how the state and/or the sportsbooks plan to accomplish this prohibition. Each sportsbook maintains geolocation verification software as part of its technology package. Before you will be allowed to place a wager, the app or site will have to verify your physical location. If you’re using a mobile device, the software will almost certainly use your phone or tablet’s onboard GPS to make a determination. On the other hand, laptop and desktop users will be compelled to download geolocation software to their hard drives and affirm their positions before they can play.

Unlike some areas of technology, geolocation verification software is actually quite accurate and adept at placing you on the map. The sportsbooks can use the software to create a virtual fence around Ohio. In fact, it is more likely that you will be incorrectly denied service from inside the state than it is for you to sneak by the fence and place a cross-border bet. The books are always going to err on the side of caution and prohibit someone from betting if they cannot be assured of your location. They face fines and license sanctions if they are not vigilant, so they are not going to take any chances.

Although this approach might seem harsh, it is identical to the situation you’ll find in every other legal online sports betting state. Though PASPA’s demise opened the door for intrastate sports betting in 2018, interstate sports betting remains strictly forbidden at the federal level. The Wire Act of 1961, which was designed to give then-Atty. Gen. Robert Kennedy another tool in his fight against organized crime, is still the law of the land and does not permit the transmission of bets over “electronic wires,” which only differs from our current technology in terms of semantics.

Long story short, you will have to be inside Ohio to place a sports bet with an Ohio sportsbook. However, with online sports betting, there’s nothing wrong with making a bet from your car in a parking lot.

Where would I be able to make legal sports bets in Ohio?

Without a sports betting law on the books just yet, we cannot be completely certain about where you’ll be able to make sports bets in Ohio. However, based on the various gambling venues in the state, we can make some educated guesses on retail sportsbook locations.

The most obvious locations for sportsbooks in Ohio are its four full-service casinos. Each of the four largest cities in Ohio is home to a casino, and they serve as gambling hubs for their citizens and the surrounding areas. Any sportsbook in the Buckeye State will certainly involve them, so look for sports betting to come to the following venues:

  • Hard Rock Casino Cincinnati
  • Hollywood Casino Toledo
  • Hollywood Columbus Casino
  • JACK Cleveland Casino

In addition to these four spots, there is a high likelihood that Ohio will also make the seven racetracks in the state eligible for sports betting. Since all seven locations are already racinos with slot machines, it makes sense that they would welcome other forms of gambling under the roofs, like sports betting. So, it’s probably a good bet that you will see sports betting in the following places when it launches in Ohio:

  • Belterra Park Gaming
  • Eldorado Gaming Scioto Downs
  • Hollywood Gaming at Dayton Raceway
  • Hollywood Gaming at Mahoning Valley Race Course
  • JACK Thistledown Racino
  • MGM Northfield Park
  • Miami Valley Gaming & Racing

The only other location that might make sense for a sportsbook in Ohio is the Cedar Downs Off-Track Betting Theater in Sandusky. Allowing OTBs to host sportsbooks is not unprecedented – neighboring Pennsylvania does that very thing, and as a result, there is a sportsbook/OTB right next to Philadelphia’s sports stadiums. However, it is possible that other casino and racino owners in Ohio could argue that allowing Cedar Downs to have a sportsbook would provide the owner of Cedar Downs, MGM Resorts International, an unfair advantage. So, the placement of a sportsbook at the OTB is less likely than the other 11 locations mentioned, but it’s not outside the realm of possibility.

How Ohio online sports betting sites could work

Obviously, Ohio is still working to bring sports betting to life inside its borders. We don’t have a firm grasp on exactly how the state will choose to operate the new industry. However, if the previous legalization efforts are any guide, online sports betting will be a big part of the opportunity. So, let’s explore how Ohio online sports betting sites might work once they launch.

If you haven’t had a chance to visit one of the other online sports betting states so far, you may be wondering how you even place a bet online. After all, the online version of many things is often quite different from the retail version. Thankfully, online sports betting is quite similar to its real-world counterpart. In fact, there are several reasons why online sports betting is superior to the live version.

In general, the procedure for getting started and using a sportsbook app is the same, no matter where you do it. So, based upon the scheme in other locations, we can safely assume that you will need to execute the following process:

  • Download an app
  • Sign up for an account
  • Deposit money
  • Choose a bet
  • Place a bet
  • Collect winnings

Let’s explore each step in greater detail. Here’s how to get started betting on sports in Ohio through your mobile device.

How to download an Ohio sportsbook app

Though you may have downloaded plenty of apps to your mobile device, you may be wondering if there’s any difference when it comes to downloading a sportsbook app. The good news is that there really isn’t much of a difference. Once Ohio apps begin to launch, the first thing to do will be to visit this page and look for the banners above. We have the best bonuses that you can find, and many of them are not available elsewhere.

So, choose the app that you want to try, and click the “Play Now” button on our banner. However, before you do so, make sure to note any promotional code listed for the bonus offer. Copy it down exactly as it appears – promo codes are case-sensitive and must be exact in order to trigger the app to give you the reward.

Once you click the button, you will visit a page to select between the two types of mobile device formats. Until recently, the procedure for Apple phones was slightly different than it was for Android devices. However, thanks to Google’s recent decision to allow online gambling apps in the Google Play Store, it is no longer necessary to do anything different, no matter what type of device you have. So, press the appropriate button, and you’ll be whisked to a download page for the sportsbook. The download page should look identical to any other app download page you’ve seen before. It also functions the same way, so download the app to your device like you would any other app. Then, open the app.

How to sign up for an Ohio sportsbook account

Once you’ve got the app downloaded and installed, the next step should be to create an account. The button to start the registration process is almost always in the top right corner of the app display. It should say something like “Sign Up,” “Join,” or “Register.” It will usually be brightly colored, too.

After you press the button, you will enter into the registration page(s) for the app. There will be several blanks with labels for your personal information. You should expect to give the following bits of information to the app in order to create your account:

  • Name
  • Email address
  • Date of birth
  • Cell phone number
  • Address
  • Social Security number (or last four digits)

You will also have to create a username and password in order to secure your account access. Make sure that you keep these details secure, since, along with the personal data you’re volunteering above, you will be submitting your financial or banking data, too. You may also be asked to select and answer challenge questions as an extra layer of verification and security.

Finally, you will likely see an optional box to enter a promotional code. If you wrote down a code from this site, you’ll enter it here. Make sure that you enter it exactly as it was written, as codes are both case-sensitive and typo-sensitive.

How do I deposit and withdraw money on an online sports betting app?

Obviously, without money in your account, you cannot place a wager, so the next step in the process of online sports betting is to fund your account. Sportsbooks, of course, have an interest in making that procedure as painless as they can, so they commonly offer multiple options for moving money into and out of the cashier section of your account. You are also likely to see a space on the deposit page to enter a promo code. If you noted any code on our page that did not apply to your registration, you’ll need to enter it exactly here.

Not all of these methods will work for your financial situation, but that’s okay. The idea is that you’ll be able to find something that works. So, here are some of the most common ways to bank through an online sportsbook app:

  • Credit or debit cards (Visa, Mastercard, etc.)
  • Online bank transfers (similar to online bill pay)
  • Wire transfers
  • Electronic checks (ACH or VIP Preferred)
  • Prepaid cards (Play+)
  • Electronic wallets (PayPal, Skrill, etc.)
  • PayNearMe (via 7-Eleven)
  • Cash at the land-based casino cage
  • Checks or money orders

Please note that withdrawal methods tend to be fewer in number than deposit methods. In general, you’ll be able to withdraw with paper or electronic checks, prepaid cards, cash at the cage, and (occasionally) electronic wallets. However, credit cards and bank transfers tend to be tougher nuts to crack for pulling money back to your account.

What sports can I bet on in Ohio?

As of now, there are zero sports betting options in Ohio. Why? Because sports betting is not yet legal. However, by looking at other nearby states, we can piece together a good list of operators, bet types and locations that might be available in the state.

NFL Betting in Ohioohio sports betting

There are two NFL teams in Ohio, and you can be 100% sure you will be able to place bets on both teams.

  • Cleveland Browns: FirstEnergy Stadium
  • Cincinnati Bengals: Paul Brown Stadium

Betting on NFL games is pretty straightforward. Thus, bets that involve game outcomes are easy to host and handicap.

NBA Betting in Ohio

Ohio is also home to a single NBA franchise, the Cleveland Cavaliers.

  • Cleveland Cavaliers: Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse

In terms of betting on the NBA, games are similar to NFL games. The scoring yields opportunities for almost any kind of sports bet that you’d want to place.

MLB Betting in Ohiosports betting in Ohio

Much like the with the NFL, Ohio is home to a pair of MLB franchises, the Cleveland Indians and the Cincinnati Reds.

  • Cleveland Indians: Progressive Field
  • Cincinnati Reds: Great American Ball Park

Betting on baseball games is a bit different from wagering on football or basketball. Baseball games tend to be lower-scoring affairs, so they use a “run line” in place of the typical point spread. The run line always designates the favorite and underdog as 1.5 points apart, and the book adjusts the odds through manipulation of the payout ratio. In many ways, the run line is quite similar to the moneyline bet.

NHL Betting in Ohio

Finally, Ohio sports fans have a single NHL franchise, the Columbus Blue Jackets, making Ohio one of the very few states with all four major sports leagues.

  • Columbus Blue Jackets: Nationwide Arena

Betting on NHL games is quite similar to betting on MLB games. Much like baseball, hockey tends to be a low-scoring affair. Because of this, sportsbooks have a 1.5-point puck line, similar to baseball’s run line. Both types of lines function in the same manner as the other, and vary the payout ratios rather than the amount of the spreads themselves.

Betting on Ohio sports teams

Now that you have discovered all the different teams that you will be able to bet on in Ohio, it’s time to consider how to bet them. Retail and online sports betting both use the same types of bets, for the most part, so it’s good to learn about them and/or refresh your memory about how they work. So, here are common types of sports bets that you will see, no matter which sportsbook you choose.

  • Moneylines: The moneyline is the most basic type of sports bet. It is a bet on which team will win the game or match — full stop. The only wrinkle is that the payouts for each team vary based upon which team is favored to win.
  • Point spreads: Point spreads are probably the bet type most familiar to common knowledge. In this bet, the sportsbook estimates the margin of victory, then bettors decide which team will prove successful against the estimate. A favorite that wins by greater than the margin is said to have “beaten” the spread, while an underdog that loses by fewer or wins outright “covers” the spread.
  • Totals: The Baba O’Riley of sports bets, totals are more commonly known by their central estimate — the over/under. Sportsbooks guess the total points that two teams will combine to score, then bettors place their money on whether that total is too low (the over) or too high (the under).
  • Futures: Futures bets have to do with season-ending results and awards. Any bet about the eventual champion of league play or a most valuable player is a futures bet. These bets usually have a bunch of different options, and it’s not uncommon for there to be no favorite listed — even the most likely candidates to win are underdogs against the possibility that someone else will win.
  • Propositions: Propositions, or prop bets, are wagers on events that don’t directly affect the outcome of the game. They can deal with team or player statistics, milestones, or the results of a section of the game. Any wacky bets that have crazy elements to them are almost always props.
  • Parlays: Parlays are a type of combination wager that smash different bets together into one. You select multiple spreads, moneylines, or whatever other type of wager you want, then choose to consider them as a parlay. Each individual bet in a parlay is known as a leg, and you can win big money if you win a parlay. However, in order to pay out, a parlay must be 100% accurate. If even one leg proves incorrect, the entire bet is lost.
  • Live betting: Live betting is a type of proposition wager that you will almost exclusively see online. Live bets are wagering options that present themselves after a game is already in progress. They are fast-paced and usually ask simple yes/no questions. Live bets can expand the total number of wagers on a single game into the hundreds.

If you are new to sports betting, it’s probably best that you don’t attempt to bet each type listed at first. Master the ins and outs of one or two of the categories and stick to those until you are comfortable with them. The last thing to do with sports betting is to bite off more than you can chew.

History of Sports Betting in Ohio

As is the case with most states not named Nevada, Ohio’s history with sports betting is not terribly long or illustrious. Frankly, Ohio’s history with gambling in general has not been terribly long or illustrious, even when compared with other nearby states. Until 2012, the only legal gambling in the state was horse betting, lottery, and charitable games. So, the past few years have been quite a sudden revolution for the Buckeye State.

With regard to sports betting, for many years, the only type of sport to bet — if it can be called that — was horse racing. Every type of gambling was banned in Ohio for much of its statehood, stretching from the 1800s up until 1933. However, in that year, the General Assembly chose to form the Ohio Racing Commission and allow patrons to place pari-mutuel wagers at the state’s racetracks. The industry remained virtually unchanged until 2000, when US lawmakers amended the Interstate Horse Racing Act of 1978 to place the question of internet horse betting into the hands of the state governments. Ohio decided to allow the citizens that privilege. It was the first bit of online gambling in Ohio, too.

The next bit of sports-type betting came to the state in the form of daily fantasy sports (DFS). DFS, like many new industries, operated in many states without lawmakers making a formal determination about its legal status. Ohio became one of the few states to do so when it passed HB132 in 2018. However, it took another two years for regulators to approve companies like DraftKings and FanDuel for DFS licenses. Regardless, DFS remains the closest that Ohio residents can come to outright sports betting at present.

Sports betting is not long an outlawed activity in the Buckeye State, though. Both lawmakers and the governor have expressed varying levels of support for sports betting legalization, and a bill to allow the activity — HB194 — passed through the House before dying in the Senate in 2020. Given the number of committee meetings occurring during the 2021 session about the topic, it seems likely that sports betting will become legal in Ohio sometime in 2021. The launch may also occur in 2021, but it will depend on how onerous the regulatory and logistical hurdles that the government and companies have to traverse are — in which case 2022 is a possibility.

Photo by AP Photo/John Minchillo
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Bart Shirley

Bart Shirley is a senior evergreen content writer for PlayUSA. He’s been writing and reporting on the gambling industry since 2013. Prior to working for PlayUSA, Shirley was a feature writer for QuadJacks, a site covering issues in poker. He also writes for BonusCodePoker, a poker satire site that lampoons the lighter side of card games. Shirley is a graduate of the MBA program at Texas Christian University’s Neeley School of Business and has a degree in English from Texas A&M University. He grew up in Houston, TX, and lives in Katy, just west of Houston. Shirley is also a former high school teacher. He is married, has one daughter, and practices Brazilian jiu jitsu in his spare time.

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