BetJACK is a local Ohio sportsbook launched by JACK Entertainment. In April, they launched “Training Camp,” a free-to-play, fully-functional sportsbook intended to let Ohioans practice sports betting.
VP of Sports and Digital Gaming for JACK Entertainment Adam Suliman spoke with TheLines to share the story of the practice sportsbook and future of betJACK Ohio. Ohio legal sports betting is scheduled to launch on Jan. 1, 2023.
What is BetJACK Training Camp?
Initially, the product known as Training Camp was a testing mechanism. It was a platform built to prepare for the state’s sports betting launch intended for testing and for the benefit of engineers and those working for JACK Entertainment. However, Suliman and his team began getting requests from friends and family. They discovered there was a demand for the product.
“Not very many people here in the state of Ohio have bet legally on sports,” Suliman said. “If they have, it’s probably on relatively simple markets – Pregame, over/unders. We thought it was important for our customers to have a flavor of what the real online sportsbooks look like before they have to spend their own money on it.”
It’s also designed to have a smooth and quick transition come Jan. 1. When Training Camp was being developed, there was no set date for the launch of sports betting in Ohio, just a deadline. Suliman and his team needed to be ready for a launch sooner than that. So the work on a functioning sportsbook began.
“The training camp product is the real-money product,” said Suliman.
Come launch day, users will finish the signup process– which, at the moment, is very surface level to promote a low-barrier entry. Once their signup is complete after Jan. 1, they can deposit and place real money wagers on sports.
“The beauty of having this other platform is that customers will be able to switch back and forth,” Suliman explained. “Say they have a theory. You can test that theory using your free-to-play account if you’re not ready. Once you feel comfortable with it, you can flip the switch to real money and place those bets on the real money side. We’re going to continue to offer both for as long as our customers want them.”
BetJACK: An Ohio book for Ohio Bettors
JACK Entertainment is an Ohio-focused company. Their operation and all team members are located in Ohio with a hyperfocus on the state.
“We’re the hometown kid,” Suliman said of the company. “I think there’s folks in other states around the country that [being from their state] might not mean much. But in the Midwest and in Ohio, being from Ohio matters, right? Talk to anybody that’s in …Ohio about somebody who’s in Michigan, and they will tell you that it matters that they’re from Ohio. So, I think there’s something to that.”
Sportsbooks have to offer the widest variety of odds and props – it’s the name of the game. However, Suliman explained that betJACK plans to offer unique promotions on local teams like the Guardians and Cavs.
“We’re going to focus on the Cavs … or the Guardians [when] they’re playing the Reds. That’s a game we’re going to cover from a content perspective but also probably run some unique promotions around that game because they matter to our customers,” he said. “At the end of the day, I think that makes a difference. I hope it makes a difference.”
Follow TheLines on Twitter
Feedback and expectations
Suliman said that betJACK has been a robust launch, though the numbers haven’t been made public just yet. If so, it would support the idea there’s a strong, pent-up demand for sports betting in Ohio.
The launch of sports betting in Ohio is forecast to be among the strongest in the US. The latest projections from PlayOhio suggest the state could be one of the top states in terms of gaming revenue Fall 2022 projections would have exceeded $1 billion, if the state could have launched in time for football season.
“We’re bullish [on the launch of sports betting],” Suliman said. “We think … that the market is going to ramp very quickly. I think any of the recent launches – think Arizona, Michigan, Illinois – they’ve ramped much faster than anybody anticipated.”
Are bets on betJACK Ohio moving markets?
In short, no.
betJack’s odds provider “certainly isn’t taking that data into account when they make their risk management decisions,” said Suliman. “They’re not moving the odds based on free-to-play wagers – that doesn’t make any sense. As far as I know, they’re not collecting any of the bet-by-bet data and doing anything with it.”
JACK Entertainment is monitoring bet activity on their platform, though. Market research is the main reason for collection. What are customers betting on? Suliman said early activity confirmed a thesis he had.
“The data is sort of proving out our thesis, which is customers in Cleveland really like betting on Cleveland sports. Shocking, right?”
However, he noted that there was very little activity of Clevelanders betting on Cincinnati teams and vice versa.