Published: February 10, 2023

Ohio Lottery Sports Betting Grows Ahead of Super Bowl, but ‘Cannibalization’ a Concern

One of the three legs of legal sports betting in the Buckeye State is growing even stronger ahead of the Super Bowl this weekend, but lottery regulators are watching to see if event wagering steals any business away from other games.

The Ohio Lottery Commission received an update on its sports betting sites on Wednesday and heard that around 850 bars, restaurants, and other “host” businesses could be taking wagers by the end of this week.

However, 1,600 possible sports-betting hosts have been recommended by the lottery and 1,100 licensed by the Ohio Casino Control Commission. The latter is the primary regulator of sports betting in Ohio.

“There is still a gap in the numbers,” said Jon Dillinger, the Ohio Lottery’s sports gaming operations manager. “So [I think as] these locations roll out, we'll continue to see those numbers grow and each month, I think, have more locations live [and] start to see this kind of spread a little bit more throughout the state.”

The commission also heard lottery officials are watching to see if there is any sports betting-related "cannibalization" of keno, which is one of its more profitable games. 

Ohio bars and restaurants may have patrons coming in to watch the Super Bowl and March Madness. Those customers could now potentially spend money on sports betting they used previously for keno.

Whether that is the case remains to be seen. Official numbers on the Ohio sports betting market have yet to be published, although the state will quickly become one of the larger markets for legal sports betting based on its sizable population of both bettors and operators.

Legal sports betting in Ohio launched on January 1, with lottery, retail, and online operators all getting in on the action as early as possible. More than 15 online sports betting sites are taking bets in the Buckeye State, including names such as BetMGMDraftKings, and FanDuel.

Ohio law also allows up to 20 kiosk-providing "proprietors" to contract with the lottery to offer sports betting at host locations. The betting markets for the terminals are more limited for players, as they are restricted to point spreads, totals, moneylines, and parlays of up to four legs. 

Lottery sports betting started throughout the state at more than 700 locations hosting kiosks or clerk-operated terminals. More businesses plan on adding event wagering to their repertoire throughout the year.

Yet the rollout of lottery-linked sports betting hit a slight snag for some businesses that wanted customer-operated kiosks. Intralot Inc. told the Ohio Lottery that its sports-betting program for kiosks was not ready for the January 1 universal start date and would need until the middle of the month to get going. 

The lottery commission heard Wednesday that more than 550 locations now have Intralot kiosks up and running in the state. Another proprietor aims to go live this week at around 50 locations, Gold Rush Amusements LLC. That will mean there will be approximately 850 locations in Ohio where lottery sports betting is active, according to Dillinger, the lottery’s sports gaming operations manager.

A fifth lottery sports betting proprietor, Skybox Sports Network Inc., is expected to launch before the end of February. A sixth licensed proprietor, Elys Gameboard Technologies LLC, is eyeing a March start.

Dillinger said staff is shifting its focus to more of the “back end” of things, such as auditing and monitoring compliance with regulations. Lottery staffers will be making the rounds and dropping in on retailers to see how they’re operating and if they are following the rules, Dillinger noted.

“So just kind of making sure everything still falls in line with our compliance end of it,” he added. “And then really from our side, it’s just continuing to monitor the growth.”

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