June 16, 2024

The Ohio Casino Control Commission (OCCC) has eased its regulatory rules regarding issued sports betting licenses that have gone unused.

Ohio sports betting license permit
Matthew Schuler, executive director of the Ohio Casino Control Commission, in his office during a December 2021 interview. Schuler says recent changes to the commission’s sportsbook licensing rules will remove unnecessary regulatory requirements regarding unused permits. (Image: AP)

The state gaming agency that regulates Ohio’s four brick-and-mortar commercial casinos in Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, and Toledo recently amended its regulations that previously mandated sportsbook licensees to begin taking bets within 12 months of receipt. The OCCC overhauled the “use it or lose it” stipulation to provide sportsbook operators with additional time to launch their betting businesses.

The amendment means sportsbook licenses no longer face a launch deadline. Instead, the regulation now provides OCCC Executive Director Matthew Schuler with the authority to rescind the sportsbook license at any time during its five-year validity if bets aren’t being accepted.

In simpler terms — the change removed the commission’s regulatory obligation to revoke a license that isn’t being used.

Regulatory Headache

Legal sports betting in Ohio began on Jan. 1, 2023. The Buckeye State’s sports gambling law allows for in-person operations at racinos, casinos, and other retail locations, plus online.

The OCCC has granted six-month extensions to its previous launch rule for operators that sought additional time before taking bets. Schuler says the sports betting licensing change means his agency won’t be legally required to take action after a year from the license’s distribution or consider extension requests.

It’s no longer a have-to-take-action requirement,” OCCC Communications Director Jessica Franks told Crain’s Cleveland Business. “We are aware of some of the difficulties that different entities are encountering.”

The development is welcomed news for several sports betting licensees that have not yet launched their online and/or retail books, including the NBA Cleveland Cavaliers, Jack Thistledown Racino, and the NFL Hall of Fame Village in Canton.

Schuler detailed during a recent commission meeting that Ohio’s sports betting market has not been fully spoken for, as three Type A retail sportsbook licenses and 17 Type B mobile sportsbook concessions remain unused.

The Cavs possess both types but have only used their retail license through a partnership with Caesars Sportsbook. The Cavs had planned to partner with Fubo Sportsbook for an online platform before the digital gaming firm shuttered in late 2022.

Jack Thistledown has experienced similar difficulties with its online skin. While the racino operates a retail sportsbook called BetJack, the racino’s plans to run an online sportsbook with WynnBet were foiled when Wynn Resorts shuttered its online sportsbook brand last summer.

Ohio Sports Betting

In the state’s first full year of regulated sports betting, oddsmakers reported taking more than $7.65 billion in bets. The books kept $937 million on a hold rate of approximately 12%.

FanDuel and DraftKings dominated the state sports betting market with a combined market share of over 70%. BetMGM was a distant third at just 8%.

Ohio lawmakers last summer passed legislation that doubled the state’s tax on gross sports betting revenue from 10% to 20%. Ohio allocates most of the sports betting income — 97.5% — to public education. Another 2% is directed to fund problem gambling programs and the remaining 0.5% goes to a veterans initiative.

The post Ohio Casino Control Commission Relaxes Sports Betting License Rules appeared first on Casino.org.

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