Ohio sports betting revenues exceeding expectations

Ohioans have bet nearly $6B since January on sporting events.

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

Ohioans have bet nearly $6 billion on sporting events since January when it first became legal. About 97% of it, or nearly $5.8 billion, has been done via online apps with the remainder bet via brick-and-mortar sportsbooks or gaming kiosks.

“Obviously sports betting is very popular in Ohio and the numbers show that,” said Steve Bittenbender, who serves as an analyst and writer with BetOhio.com, a news site and affiliate covering the sports-betting industry. “Even in the down months in the summer months, when there’s not as much activity, you’re still seeing over $300 million in betting (each month) ... which is pretty huge.”

Sports betting has been legal in Ohio since Jan. 1.

Bittenbender said some of sports betting’s success in Ohio is to be expected because it is one of the biggest sports-betting states in the nation and “one of the biggest states in terms of sports fandom” thanks to numerous professional sports teams, plus the Ohio State Buckeyes and a number of regional colleges including the University of Cincinnati, Xavier University, University of Dayton and Wright State University.

“There’s a lot of interest in the activity and I think it’s also helped that some of the sports teams have been successful as well,” he said. “Fans of those teams want to be more engaged in betting on a team that is successful or betting on a player that is having a successful season.”

Taxable revenue in Ohio since January numbers $780 million, with nearly $761 million of that coming from online betting and $18.9 million stemming from retail betting.

Bittenbender said the fiscal note, a report the Legislative Budget Office drafted for House Bill 29 to determine the impact sports gambling would have on Ohio, said it could generate as much as $24 million a year for the state.

“Obviously, they almost surpassed that in January (alone).”

Through and including October, Ohio has accrued $102 million in taxes.

That’s been helped, in part, by lawmakers in July deciding to double the taxes, which increased withholdings from 10% to 20%.

Also helping sports betting revenues is the fact that the original estimates on it were made when sportsbooks primarily promoted single-game betting, where a person placed one wager on one result, like a winning team, total points scored or a team covering the spread, Bittenbender said. Now, operators promote more parlays, multi-“leg” bets where a person can wager on multiple factors in one or more games. All “legs” or factors of that bet must occur for a bet to pay out, but that win is a more financially substantial one than a one-wager, one-result bet.

Sports betting in Ohio started Jan. 1, making the state the 32nd one to allow live sports betting. Now, there are 37 states, plus Washington, D.C., engaging in sports betting with Vermont about to launch it early next month, according to the American Gaming Association.

While some states have only online betting, and others have only brick-and-mortar betting, Ohio has both.

That betting kicked off in January with a massive month of betting fueled by the newness of the option in Ohio, plus various financial incentives dangled in front of prospective gamblers, giving them additional money to bet just by signing up via a certain service.

Betting totals dipped in February before rising again the next month for March Madness, the dropped for the next three months before rising slightly in July and August. The return of the NFL season helped revenues double by September and the start of the NBA season in October and the MLB playoffs and World Series kept those revenues on par with the month before.

Bittenbender said Ohio’s more popular brick-and-mortar options include about 20 online sportsbooks partnered with casinos, racinos and other “proprietors” that have a physical presence in the state.

Gary DeWitt, senior director of operations for Warren County’s Miami Valley Gaming, said that the venue’s sportsbook debuted Jan. 13 with 16 terminals dedicated to sports betting. DeWitt said that to date, the best month for sports betting at MVG was October.

“You have the NFL. You’ve got college football. You’ve got baseball playoffs. You’ve got the NBA starting,” DeWitt said. “It’s kind of fun when you can place the daily odds sheets out. There’s a lot of options for our guests to choose from.”

Activity at Miami Valley Gaming’s sports betting terminals primarily heats up on Saturday mornings before college football gets ready to kickoff, then again on Sunday mornings ahead of NFL games, DeWitt said.

Sports bets also can be made through kiosks at bars, restaurants, bowling alleys, grocery stores and other establishments. Consumers in Ohio spent nearly $10.8 million at lottery kiosks through and including October, the Ohio Lottery Commission said Monday. That meant $251,811 for the state, the commission said.

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

Bittenbender said betting via kiosks “has not really taken off like I think a lot of people wanted it to.”

“It’s simply because online is ubiquitous,” he said. “You don’t have to go to your corner tavern or to the bowling alley to place a sports bet. You can just do it from your home.”

Deanna Bryant, the general manager for the Fricker’s restaurant at 1818 Woodman Drive in Dayton, said, “Honestly, it hasn’t been overly popular at our particular location” Bryant said. “We do have a lot of lottery traffic as far as Keno goes and Mega Millions and things of that nature. I wouldn’t say sports betting has taken off tremendously.”

Bryant said she believes Ohio sports betting was put in place to try to get some of that traffic generated by lottery revenues, “but people are addicted to online access, so to speak,” so a majority of sports betting still would be through apps.

About the Author