August 10, 2023
Happy Thursday, Columbus!
⛈️ Today's weather: High near 83° with a chance of storms this morning. Clearer skies later in the day.
🎵 Sounds like: "Viva Las Vegas" by Elvis Presley.
Situational awareness: Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith will retire after the 2023-24 school year, ESPN reports.
- Smith has led Buckeyes athletics since 2005 — amid the pandemic, a new football playoff structure and the introduction of name, image and likeness marketing rights for student-athletes.
Today's newsletter is 931 words — a 3.5-minute read.
1 big thing: 🏈 Bets are down, but still big money
Ohio sports betting has declined significantly as an early flood of promotions has given way to a quieter summer without most major sports in action.
- More money has been wagered here than in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Virginia.
Flashback: Ohio faced a massive undertaking to launch online, retail and lottery kiosk betting at the same time on Jan. 1, says Danny Cross, managing editor of PlayOhio, a website that reports on and advocates for sports betting.
- There were early bumps in the road as operators were fined for illegally promoting "free bets" and marketing to underage players.
State of play: Since then, "things have gone quite well," Cross tells Axios.
- Ohioans wagered over $3.8 billion in the first six months of legal betting, earning sportsbooks $539 million in revenue.
- 10% of that was taxed to benefit K-12 education and problem gambling resources, though lawmakers voted to double that tax rate in the recent state budget.
What he's saying: "Sportsbooks have to be happy with the [betting totals] so far," Cross says.
The intrigue: Bettors vastly prefer placing bets online, with 97% of all money wagered via 18 digital apps.
Zoom in: Fourteen brick-and-mortar sportsbooks inside stadiums and casinos are working to attract gamblers with glitzy lounges and restaurants.
- Hollywood Casino Columbus unveiled its new Barstool Sportsbook in February and has fielded nearly $18 million in bets to date.
Meanwhile, lottery kiosk betting is so nonexistent that Ohio is actually losing money on this front.
- Ohioans have bet just $6.5 million at nearly 1,000 participating bars, restaurants and bowling alleys — netting the state just $141,000 in revenue so far.
- But these kiosks cost the state lottery commission $650,000 a year in administrative costs, WBNS-TV reports.
What we're watching: How these betting totals look once pro and college football seasons kick off next month.
- We anticipate the first OSU/Michigan game with legal betting is going to blow the gambling receipts off the charts.
2. 🗳 GOP may try again on Issue 1
Ohio voters rejected Issue 1 by a convincing margin, but that may not be the final word.
Driving the news: After Tuesday's election was called, Senate President Matt Huffman said that lawmakers would "probably" bring the question before voters again, Cleveland.com reports.
Why it matters: The comment signals Ohio Republicans' desire to curb left-leaning constitutional amendments beyond the November abortion rights vote.
State of play: Issue 1 backers offered scant concessions in the wake of its 14-point defeat.
- Supporters blamed the result on a confused electorate, high opposition spending and lack of time to coordinate a campaign.
- Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose, a key Issue 1 proponent, acknowledged only the yes votes in a statement promoting his U.S. Senate campaign.
What he's saying: Issue 1 "is only one battle in a long war," LaRose wrote.
- "I've said for months now that there's an assault coming on our constitution, and that hasn't changed. I'm just getting started in the fight to protect Ohio's values."
The other side: Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), who is running for re-election in 2024, called the special election an attempted "power grab" and a waste of taxpayer dollars.
- He urged state lawmakers to focus on education and workforce development issues rather than pursuing this again.
- "I don't know what you have to do to make them learn," he said in a Wednesday press call.
3. Nutshells: Your local news roundup
📖 Donovan Lewis, the 20-year-old a Columbus police officer shot and killed in his apartment last August, started speaking out against police violence as a teenager and was partly inspired by a novel he read in high school. (Columbus Monthly)
🏥 Circulo Health, a Columbus-based health tech startup, has closed two of its three business lines amid layoffs, executive departures and exhaustion of its venture capital investments. (Axios Pro)
🥣 Zoup! closed its Arena District location — its fourth this year — and now operates just one local restaurant at Easton. (614 Magazine)
4. ⛽ Charted: Gas prices rise
Here's an excuse to squeeze in one last summer road trip: Columbus is feeling less pain at the pump when compared to the national average.
Yes, but: Our average price for a gallon of gas ($3.55) has still trended upward most of this year, and is only a few cents lower than August 2022.
Between the lines: Gas prices have ticked up in recent weeks due to excessive heat in Gulf states like Texas and Louisiana, where many of the country's oil refineries are located.
- Refineries, which turn crude oil into products like gasoline, don't function as efficiently in 100+ degree weather, Axios' Emily Peck reports.
On the job hunt?
💼 Check out who's hiring on our Job Board.
- Senior Marketing Strategist at Paul Werth Associates.
- Employee Communications Director at Commercial Vehicle Group.
- Director, Payer Credentialing at Sound Physicians.
Want more opportunities? Check out our Job Board.
Hiring? Use code FIRST50 for $50 off your first job post.
5. Throwback Thursday: Poky poll tallies
State leaders from the Roaring '20s are partly to thank for Ohio's currently speedy process of counting and reporting election results.
State of play: Ohio announced the early vote totals just minutes after the polls closed Tuesday night, while election day tallies were reported within a few hours.
Flashback: There was a time when county elections boards had 10 days to report results to the Ohio Secretary of State.
- It wasn't just a lack of technology that slowed things down. One county reportedly took the day after an election off to attend a local circus.
By 1923, lawmakers had had enough. They enacted a bill requiring elections employees to remain at work on election day until all available votes were counted.
The intrigue: Newspapers were understandably thrilled with the change.
- The Mansfield News called that November's election the "best ever" for reporting speedy returns.
Be smart: Election night results are considered unofficial until officials certify them later in the month.
This newsletter was edited by Lindsey Erdody and copy edited by Kate Sommers-Dawes and Keely Bastow.
🥜 Tyler is reading about the return of "The Big Peanut," a giant Georgia goober that was once ruined by a hurricane.
🤢 Alissa is now having flashbacks of the boiled peanuts she tried during a Georgia visit.