Extra New Year Cheer for Ohioans as Sports Betting Launches

  • As the clocks turned 12 in Ohio, sports betting became legal statewide
  • Baseball legend Pete Rose laid the first bet at Hard Rock Casino
  • A SOO exec made the first bet at JACK Casino in downtown Cleveland
  • Ohio regulators expect to issue additional operator licenses in 2023
Fireworks in Ohio
Ohioans flocked to the state’s first legal sports betting operators on January 1 as the market launched for the first time. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Ohio market launches

Bettors in Ohio were able to bring in the New Year with added cheer after the state’s sports betting market launched in tandem with the turning of the years, making it the 24th US state to go legal.

Pete Rose laying the first bet

When the clock hit 12 on New Year, sports bettors in Ohio flocked to the new legalized market. Barstool Sports took to Twitter with a video of baseball legend Pete Rose laying the first bet at Hard Rock Casino Cincinnati.

News 5 Cleveland meanwhile reports a Stow man, Matt Lewis, as placing the first ever sports bet at MGM Northfield Park, seconds after the market went live.

Lewis backed the Cleveland Browns to beat the Washington Commanders, saying it felt right given history was being made in Ohio. The launch of the market is the welcomed culmination of a long and often torturously nitpicky legalisation and licensing process which began when Governor Mike DeWine signed House Bill 29 into law in December 2021.

Marking the occasion

Over at JACK Casino in downtown Cleveland, it was Special Olympics Ohio (SOO) executive Christine Hoyer who made the venue’s first sports bet which was shared on Twitter:

According to News 5, betJACK planned to make a donation to SOO “matching the amount wagered in the first two hours of legal sports betting, up to $20,000.”

For many bettors, however, January 1 meant a chance to snap up the free bonuses and make hay. CEO Malik Wright was in the latter category, as his Betfred Sports betting slip revealed on Twitter:

Hard Rock, MGM Northwood Park and JACK Casino are among the 12 licensed retail sports and Betfred Sports among the 16 online sportsbooks officially open for business on January 1 after regulators the Ohio Casino Control Commission (OCCC) and the state lottery gave them the green light.

The OCCC has also given permission to other operators that will launch at latter stages over this year.

Home-state comforts

Judging from the many Ohioans flush from their free bet bonanza, the market is over the moon about their state offering legal sports betting facilities.

News 5 cites JACK Casino-goer Tony Banks as stating the gamblers among his friends and family:

have been waiting for this day.”

“We were looking for a place that’s close by. And now we finally have it,” Banks said.

While its ironic Pete Rose made the first bet in the state that banished him, there’s nothing ironic about the impact the market is going to have on Ohio. For its first year of legal sports betting, number crunchers peg Ohio’s projected handle at $8bn. They believe the state’s coffers will fill by around $50m in tax revenue in 2023.

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