When nearly all of your neighbors have something cool to play with and you don’t, it’s normal to want to get in on the fun. That’s how many Ohio residents must be feeling about sports betting, as legal options for doing so are available in neighboring Pennsylvania, Indiana, Michigan and West Virginia.
Legal sports betting has become available in a number of states since the landmark US Supreme Court decision in May 2018. Ohio, though, remains on the list of states that have yet to take substantive action toward making it happen.
However, that could be changing. So what would sports betting look like in Ohio if the state gives the OK? Read on as we take a detailed look at what you might expect.
Is Ohio sports betting legal?
No, sports betting is not legal in Ohio … yet. However, it did come close to fruition in 2020, and a new bill is making the rounds in 2021. The new bill (SB176) takes bits of the 2020 version (SB111), as well as feedback from casinos, racinos, sports leagues, and Ohio businesses such as lottery vendors. The bill is jointly sponsored by Sens. Niraj Antani and Nathan Manning and includes 40 possible licenses siloed into Type A and Type B. Here’s a few key points that we know for now:
- Type A consists of 20 mobile licensees who can operate one online sports site with an accompanying app under one brand name per licensee.
- Type B licensees can operate one retail sports gaming facility. These 20 facilities may not be located at a casino or racino.
- The Ohio Casino Control Commission (CCC) oversees sports betting with Type A and Type B licensees.
- Permits all wagering on college athletics, though the CCC could still limit bets on college sports
- The Inter-University Council of Ohio doesn’t want any wagering on in-state college teams.
- Ohio’s pro sports teams are on board with legal sports betting.
The other bits of the 2021 Ohio sports betting bill allow the Ohio Lottery Commission to operate a sports lottery. The lottery would take $20 fixed bets. In addition, Type B licensees can include professional sports teams in Ohio. It is not clear, however, just how retail sportsbooks fit into this version of the bill.
What still needs to happen?
Obviously, things are still in flux in Ohio. Now that there is a new bill this year, we can expect the typical rounds of debate and negotiation before the final product makes its way to the state Legislature. If it passes through both the House and Senate, it will advance to Gov. Mike DeWine for his signature.
While there are a lot of encouraging signs that the legislation will pass, there are naturally no guarantees. Optimistically, sports betting could be legal in Ohio before too long. Pessimistically, the new bill could wind up tabled until a later date… again. Since the state is already noting how much revenue is heading elsewhere to legal sportsbooks in Michigan (among others), notable progress could happen this time around.
Ohio sports betting apps
Until online sports betting legislation officially passes in Ohio, we won’t know exactly how many licenses and skins will be available. However, we can say that the online sportsbook market is competitive and a key point of entry as sportsbooks look to expand their presence across the Midwest. Here are some of the names that likely have keen interest (or already have a deal in place) to set up shop in Ohio.
- DraftKings Sportsbook: A presence in surrounding states and an eye toward entering as many markets as possible makes a DraftKings app a natural for Ohio. It’s also a well-known brand going back to its daily fantasy sports roots. The platform is among the slickest you’ll find, with top features such as its live betting section and a variety of props.
- FanDuel Sportsbook: FanDuel is one of the top brands in the industry and will naturally want to keep the momentum going by taking a crack at another potentially fruitful market. The FanDuel app looks great and works well, with features like the popular single-game parlay.
- BetMGM Sportsbook: BetMGM Sportsbook also has its sights set on aggressive expansion, and with a racino in Northfield, an attempt at entering Ohio seems like a given. The recognizable brand name has helped the company gain a lot of traction, but there’s also lots to see under the hood, including a range of betting markets.
- William Hill Sportsbook: The William Hill brand name has been around for decades, and the company has been making some serious progress in its expansion efforts across the US. It has a partnership with Caesars, which gives it a path into Ohio. As for the William Hill app, it features careful attention to odds and lines, lots of markets and bets, and much more.
- BetRivers Sportsbook: While BetRivers may not have the national cachet that other sportsbooks bring to the table, it continues to gain ground thanks to a great product. The app is smooth and simple while still having lots of features, and there’s a great rewards program for bettors.
- Barstool Sportsbook: Media entity Barstool Sports has teamed up with Penn National with an eye toward becoming a go-to destination for bettors. Penn National, of course, owns properties in the state with two Hollywood casinos. The Barstool app has only launched in select states to date, but plans are in the works for more as soon as possible.
- TwinSpires Sportsbook: A member of the Churchill Downs family, this app was formerly known as BetAmerica. For horse racing fans, there’s natural crossover appeal, but it’ll be interesting to see if the brand can make headway in Ohio sports betting.
- Hard Rock Sportsbook: A Hard Rock Casino is on the way to Cincinnati at the site of the former Jack Casino. The rebrand has taken some time but could be complete soon. As such, a Hard Rock sportsbook app could be a distinct possibility in Ohio.
How to start betting online in Ohio
In the majority of legal sports betting states to date, users have been able to complete the registration process remotely, which means they can take care of signing up online or via app. A few outliers have made in-person registration a requirement. We’ll have to wait and see which direction Ohio goes, but remote is the much more efficient path.
The remote sign-up process is quick and painless. You can complete it in just a few minutes by following the prompts. Prospective users likely will have to provide the following information:
- Email address
- Date of birth
- Last four digits of Social Security number
Before you can create your account, the sportsbook has to verify your identity and that you’re of legal age. If there’s any trouble with that, you then would need to provide supporting documentation.
While you don’t need to be a resident of the state to sign up and play, you do need to be located within state lines when placing bets. For this purpose, sites verify your location with geolocation tracking software. On a mobile device, the app utilizes the existing GPS technology. On a web browser on a desktop computer, you’ll need to download the software.
On the usability front, top sportsbooks have developed some stellar and user-friendly platforms. Some are naturally better than others, but all of them will let you complete all of the main functions with ease.
What is the legal gambling age in Ohio?
To play casino games in Ohio, you must be 21 or older. However, 18-year-olds and up can play the lottery and bet on horses. For sports betting, it’s an open question for the time being, but one that any legislation will answer.
Of the already legal states, many have settled on 21 as the minimum age for sports betting, but some outliers have settled on 18. If we expect Ohio to follow the lead of neighboring states, 21 would be the magic number.
Sports betting partnerships in Ohio
As sports betting providers enter new markets, their goal is to attract as many new users as possible. Beyond the traditional advertising methods and promotional opportunities for bettors, there has been a growing trend of sportsbooks signing sponsorship deals with local pro teams as a means of gaining even more exposure.
The top pro leagues, such as the NFL, have all signed various deals as well, so the days of keeping wagering at a distance appear to be in the past. Since sports betting isn’t legal in Ohio yet, the floodgates haven’t opened. However, the Cleveland Cavaliers got ahead of the curve by announcing a deal with Betway that includes a free-to-play game for fans.
In the past, the Columbus Blue Jackets have had promotional arrangements in place with Hollywood Casino Columbus. The local pro teams have already made their feelings known about partnership opportunities, so it’s safe to say that there will be deals to come if legalization moves forward in Ohio.
Futures and prop betting in Ohio
While sports betting hasn’t yet gone live in Ohio, we can still look ahead to what we can expect when it happens. In short, bettors will have access to all of the top markets and bets. For the latter, top options include moneyline, spread and total bets on all of the top games.
You’ll also be able to expand your horizons in a number of directions. Two of the top areas to scope out are futures betting and props. Futures are wagers that require a long-term view, while props open the doors to more wagering opportunities on games. For the futures market, top options include placing wagers in advance on the winners of the following big games and events:
You can also place wagers on things like the winners of the next Masters or Wimbledon for golf or tennis. Futures odds come out well in advance of the events and will remain active from there. You can make a single call on who you think will win or spread out the risk by making multiple selections.
Prop bets are basically like having some side action on a game. They’re based on things that may or may not happen as a contest plays out from a team, game or player perspective. Player props are among the most popular choices and revolve around individual accomplishments. Here are some examples:
- How many total TDs for Baker Mayfield — over/under 2.5?
- Will Joey Votto hit a home run — yes/no?
- Who will have more points plus assists — Collin Sexton or Russell Westbrook?
You’ll find the available props for a contest by clicking on the individual game listings at most sportsbooks, but some will have sections specifically dedicated to this wager. Player props share a lot in common with fantasy sports, so those with experience in that realm can use them as a transition over to sports betting.
Live betting at Ohio sportsbooks
Another top option at legal sportsbooks is live betting, and it should be a similar story in Ohio. Also known as in game bets, these are wagers that you can place in real time as the action is playing out. The actual bets will vary based on what’s going on, but examples of the types of wagers you’ll see include:
- What will be the result of this Cincinnati Bengals drive — TD/FG/TO/punt/downs?
- How many total shots for the Columbus Blue Jackets in period one — over/under 8.5?
- Will Jose Ramirez reach base in this at-bat — yes/no?
The market moves really fast as odds and offerings update rapidly throughout the game. Beyond various prop scenarios, you’ll also see updated odds on the outcome based on the current situation. For example, the Cleveland Browns may walk on the field as big favorites, but the live betting odds will adjust if they wind up down big in the first half.
Live betting is available at all of the major online sportsbook apps. Once a game gets underway, you can click on the dedicated live betting tab to see what’s happening. From there, you can check in from time to time as you watch the game.
Popular sports teams to bet on in Ohio
If you’re a big fan of pro sports, then Ohio is a great place to be. All of the major leagues are represented in cities across the state. Naturally, that leads to some divided rooting interests, but it can also make for some really fun debates among fans.
- NFL: Cleveland Browns, Cincinnati Bengals
- NBA: Cleveland Cavaliers
- MLB: Cincinnati Reds, Cleveland Indians
- NHL: Columbus Blue Jackets
- MLS: Columbus Crew
You’ll be able to bet on all of the above all season long at legal books. Ohio is also a fantastic spot for college sports, but this will be a key area to watch as legal issues are sorted out. Some states prohibit betting on in-state colleges, but others have no such restrictions in place.
The Inter-University Council of Ohio has already voiced its concerns, but we’ll have to wait and see what the ultimate resolution is. No betting on in-state teams would be a slight letdown, but the good news is that there are plenty of other college football and basketball games to focus on. Also, other states prohibit wagering on high school sports, so it should be more of the same here.
Where to bet on sports in Ohio
Retail betting will be coming to Ohio if legislation passes, but questions remain on exactly how many outlets will be available. A group of smaller businesses is hoping the state lottery will run sports betting. Ultimately, the group would like to see sports betting available in places like bars, restaurants and bowling alleys.
We’ll see what develops as legislation moves forward. For now, the state’s racinos and casinos seem like the most likely spots to land retail sportsbooks.
Ohio casinos and racinos
- Belterra Park Cincinnati, Anderson Township
- Eldorado Gaming Scioto Downs, Columbus
- Hard Rock Casino, Cincinnati
- Hollywood Casino, Columbus
- Hollywood Casino, Toledo
- Hollywood Gaming at Dayton Raceway, Dayton
- Hollywood Gaming at Mahoning Valley Race Course, Austintown
- JACK Casino, Cleveland
- JACK ThistleDown Racino, North Randall
- MGM Northfield Park, Northfield
- Miami Valley Gaming, Turtlecreek Township
There’s also a pair of OTB locations in Ohio that could make sense for retail sports betting locations: Cedar Downs in Cleveland and Mifflin Meadows in Mansfield. In some states, there has been a push for betting at stadiums. While we don’t know if that will happen in Ohio, there are certainly plenty of options if it happens.
Ohio stadiums and arenas
- FirstEnergy Stadium, Cleveland (Cleveland Browns)
- Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati (Cincinnati Bengals)
- Great American Ball Park, Cincinnati (Cincinnati Reds)
- Progressive Field, Cleveland (Cleveland Indians)
- Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse, Cleveland (Cleveland Cavaliers)
- Nationwide Arena, Columbus (Columbus Blue Jackets)
- Historic Crew Stadium, Columbus (Columbus Crew)