Banned Baseball Legend Pete Rose Will Place First Bet in Ohio Sports Betting History

  • Ohio’s sports betting market opens at 12:01am on January 1, 2023
  • Pete Rose will place the first bet in the state’s new legal market
  • Rose is permanently banned from baseball for gambling on games
  • Illinois recently became the second-largest American betting market
Pete Rose
Pete Rose will place the first bet in regulated Ohio sports betting history. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

An ironic choice

Hard Rock Casino Cincinnati will usher in a new era of Ohio sports betting by getting exiled baseball legend Pete Rose to place the first bet.

a lifetime ban from baseball for admittedly gambling on games

Rose is serving a lifetime ban from baseball for admittedly gambling on games, many of which he participated in, during his career which stretched from 1963-1986. He would have entered the Hall of Fame if not for being banished, and his legacy remains one of the greatest debates in the sport’s history.

The launch of Ohio’s market has been highly-anticipated since the state secured the necessary legislation. Hard Rock plans to go live at 12:01am on New Year’s Day 2023 and Rose will place the first wager. 

Pete Rose to kick off Ohio sports betting

Rose, known by his nickname “Charlie Hustle,” still holds MLB records for hits (4,256), games played (3,562), at-bats (14,053), singles (3,215), and outs (10,328). He is known best for his time with the Cincinnati Reds, with whom he helped achieve the nickname the “Big Red Machine” for their dominance in the 1970s.

Towards the tail end of his career, he served as a player-manager before becoming a full-time manager a couple of years later. 

In February 1989, Rose met with the commissioner to discuss his gambling habits. He was known to enjoy high-risk wagering, but many believed that he had been betting on MLB games, which violated league policy.

risking $8,000-10,000 ($19,000-24,000 in today’s economy adjusted for inflation) per day on baseball

An IRS investigation found that Rose had been risking $8,000-10,000 ($19,000-24,000 in today’s economy adjusted for inflation) per day on baseball. He was handed a lifetime ban and told he could appeal after one year, but he was never able to win his case.

Now, at 81 years old, Rose makes an ironic return to the forefront of gambling, becoming the poster boy for a state that he was forced to vacate. 

Unfortunately for the fan favorite, there are no MLB games on the schedule for January 1. However, there are three NBA games, headlined by the Milwaukee Bucks at the Denver Nuggets, along with 14 Week 17 games on NFL Sunday, highlighted by the Minnesota Vikings at the Green Bay Packers.

Setting up the market

Ohio sports betting has been a long time coming. Governor Mike DeWine signed a bill in December 2021 legalizing the state’s market, but it will not go into effect until 12:01am on January 1, 2023.

The process of accepting and vetting license applications was lengthy, but the Buckeye State is finally almost ready to open. 

Sportsbooks have until December 2 to have their integrity systems approved by state regulators. This applies to both in-person and online sportsbooks, as Ohio legalized both forms of gambling.

At the time of writing, 21 of 23 mobile applicants and 20 of 27 brick-and-mortar providers have been approved. There are also 880 kiosk locations and that number is quickly growing. 

increase in attention and interest in the entire area

Ohio also has the privilege of joining an exploding Midwest betting scene. Illinois recently overtook New Jersey as the second-largest betting market in America, trailing only New York. The result has been an increase in attention and interest in the entire area, which benefits Ohio, Iowa, Michigan, Wisconsin, and all other nearby players.