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Ohio Casino Commission Approves First Licenses for Online, Retail Sports Betting

The machines The Ohio Casino Control Commission (OCCC) took the first steps in approving sports betting licenses during its meeting Wednesday.

In all, eight proprietors received conditional approval to host both online sports betting operators and retail sportsbooks.

Those approved were JACK Cleveland Casino, JACK Thistledown Racino, the Cleveland Browns, the Columbus Crew, the Cincinnati Reds, Muirfield Village Golf Club, Hollywood Casino Toledo, and Hollywood Gaming at Mahoning Valley. Those entities are among 22 proprietors seeking to partner with online betting operators. They’re also among 26 proprietors that have applied to host brick-and-mortar sportsbooks.

According to the state law, up to 25 proprietors can partner with online sports betting operators. Up to 40 can host a brick-and-mortar sportsbook. The physical sportsbook locations are mostly limited to the state’s most populous counties. The law also gives preference to Ohio’s four casinos, seven racinos, and 10 professional sports teams or events when it comes to allocating licenses.

The OCCC has set a universal launch date of Jan. 1 for online apps, retail sportsbooks, and sports betting kiosks in bars and other qualifying Ohio Lottery retailers.

The next OCCC meeting is scheduled for Sept. 21, and for the next three months the commission will meet twice each month.

Key Deadlines Approaching

With some exceptions, those interested in getting a sports betting license needed to submit their application to the OCCC by July 15 in order to qualify for the Jan. 1 start date

Also on Wednesday, the OCCC reminded applicants that they must submit information about key employees and holding companies by Oct. 5 or they will no longer be allowed to start on the universal launch date.

All stakeholders have received at least one, if not multiple, direct reminders to submit the required information for these persons in control,” the commission stated in an email sent Wednesday afternoon.

In addition, applicants will need to submit completed and OCCC-approved responsible gaming plans, required procedures, house rules, geolocation procedures, and other required compliance materials by Nov. 2. That’s the same deadline as standard sports betting employee applications must be submitted as well.

Failure to meet that deadline will also result in not being able to start offering sports betting on Jan. 1.

Ohio Sports Betting Kiosk Update

According to Ohio’s eLicense portal, 499 lottery retailers that want to host sports betting kiosks have received conditional approval on their applications. In all, 819 have either submitted their applications or have them under review by the OCCC.

When state lawmakers legalized sports betting last year, they allowed kiosks as a way for a variety of businesses to participate. The law opened the door for for-profit lottery retailers with one of three types of liquor licenses to host kiosks.

While it’s mostly been bars and restaurants that have applied for the kiosk licenses, other establishments, such as bowling alleys and golf courses, have submitted applications, too. Grocery stores are seeking licenses. Cincinnati-based supermarket giant Kroger has submitted applications for 42 of its Ohio stores, and all but one have been conditionally approved.

Kiosks will have certain limits in what they can offer compared to online apps and retail sportsbooks. The kiosks can only offer pre-event point spread, moneyline, and totals wagers on games. The machines also limit parlays to no more than four legs. In addition, bettors using kiosks cannot bet more than $700 in a calendar week through the machines.

The Ohio Lottery Commission has already pre-approved 1,337 potential kiosk hosts, and while the lottery’s recommendation is one of the eligibility requirements for license, that recommendation does not equal a rubber-stamp approval by the OCCC.


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