May 17, 2023 - Sports

Ohio sports betting so far smashing projections

Data: Legal Sports Report; Table: Axios Visuals. Note: Ohio total does not include nearly $350,000 in sports betting revenue from lottery-regulated kiosks.
Data: Legal Sports Report; Table: Axios Visuals. Note: Ohio total does not include nearly $350,000 in sports betting revenue from lottery-regulated kiosks.

Ohio bettors were expected to wager $8 billion during the first year of legalized sports betting, and with only three months of spending data, it looks like that eye-popping projection was a lowball.

Driving the news: Ohioans bet nearly $2.5 billion through the end of March, per state data ā€” around $212 for every resident.

  • And that's with the Buckeyes football season still months away.

Why it matters: Our sports-obsessed state is already a betting powerhouse, with the resulting millions in tax dollars flowing toward education causes.

  • Sportsbooks have recorded $387.5 million in net revenue so far ā€” the state taxes 10% to fund K-12 education and problem gambling resources.

The latest: Gov. Mike DeWine proposes to double that tax rate, but Ohio House members have thus far rejected the idea.

The big picture: It's been five years since a U.S. Supreme Court ruling launched the nationwide sports betting industry that has become all but inescapable to fans, Jeff Tracy writes for Axios Sports.

  • Ohio is already the No. 14 state for total wagers handled, ahead of states like Connecticut and West Virginia that legalized betting well before we did.

Zoom in: Nearly all of Ohio's action (97%) has occurred on digital betting apps like DraftKings and FanDuel.

  • Most other bets were placed at brick-and-mortar sportsbooks within casinos, racinos and arenas.
  • Just $3.2 million (0.1%) was bet at the growing number of kiosks inside restaurants, bars and bowling alleys.
  • Columbus and the suburbs have around 100 such kiosks, which feature a limited range of bets compared to online apps.

Meanwhile, Ohio regulators have stayed busy these first few months, fining DraftKings and Barstool a combined $750,000 in February for marketing to underage players and improperly promoting "free bets."

  • Alabama baseball coach Brad Bohannon was recently fired after evidence showed he was on the phone with an Ohio bettor who placed a "suspicious" wager before a Crimson Tide game.

What they're saying: The state gambling helpline has seen a spike in callers since sports betting launched in January, Problem Gambling Network of Ohio executive director Derek Longmeier tells Axios.

  • But not all of these new callers are sports bettors ā€” a testament, he says, to the efficacy of a state law requiring sportsbooks to promote addiction resources in their marketing campaigns.

Worthy of your time: Our guide on responsible betting

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