Ohio Casino Control Commission's Jessica Franks Talks State's Upcoming Sports Betting Launch

Ohio Casino Control Commission's Jessica Franks Talks State's Upcoming Sports Betting Launch
By Shelby Dermer
Fact Checked by Thomas Leary

Multiple professional sports franchises in Ohio, including the Bengals, Browns, Cavaliers and Columbus Crew, have already announced sports betting partnerships with the state set to launch sports gaming when the calendar flips to 2023. 

Ahead of the launch date for Ohio sports betting sites, BetOhio sat down with Jessica Franks, the director of communications for the Ohio Casino Control Commission. Franks joined the OCCC in 2013 and has worked in government for nearly 20 years.

In December 2021, Gov. Mike DeWine signed House Bill 29 into law, and the state has just had its first application window for licenses. The next window ends Aug. 15.

When the state does launch there will be Ohio mobile betting apps, retail sportsbooks and kiosks at retail sites available for wagering with the universal launch date of Jan. 1, 2023. 

Although the state will miss most of the NFL regular season, it should be up and running in time for the NFL Playoffs and the Super Bowl. 

Ohio Gets The Ball Rolling

BetOhio: When it comes to sports betting in Ohio, has it been sort of a whirlwind? For so long the attitude was, “go to Las Vegas for that kind of thing” and with the PASPA decision in 2018 it just snowballed with each individual state and Ohio’s now right there in the mix.

Franks: The commission has been monitoring sports gaming since the PASPA decision. Obviously since that decision there have been a couple of different attempts to authorize sports gaming in the state of Ohio. Once it was passed and signed in late December of last year, we wasted no time in getting the ball rolling. I think the bill was signed in mid-December, or shortly thereafter, and within a week to 10 days we had the first draft of rules out to stakeholders for comments.

(As the launch date nears, be on the lookout for Ohio sportsbook promo codes.)

‘Strict and Very Detailed Requirements’

BetOhio: The average sports bettor in Ohio sees that it’s signed in mid-December of 2021 and now you have this launch date of Jan. 1, 2023. Those players are kind of left wondering what is happening throughout this calendar year and they’re upset because it’s late in the football season. So, could you provide some clarity on what happens over these last 12 months?

Franks: We understand people are really excited (for) sports gaming in the state of Ohio, however that doesn’t mean that we don’t have to follow the really strict and very detailed requirements that are laid out in the sports gaming law. The big one, of course, is that we have this universal start date and due to all of the things that have to happen — all of the individuals and entities that want to get involved — that’s part of what is going to take this time.

The businesses, if they are having a physical sportsbook, they need time to build out that sportsbook and complete construction. All of these entities need time to hire staff, train staff and get them licensed. That is really part of what drove the need for that Jan. 1, 2023 start date.

We wanted to make sure we gave all of our potential applicants and licensees a date to keep in mind so they could plan accordingly and then to make the process leading up to that date as smooth as possible.

Who Could Be Live on Jan. 1?

BetOhio: Are there certain companies or sportsbooks (such as potentially FanDuel Ohio Sportsbook) that are going to be live that you can share?

Franks: We have just started the first window for mobile, online entities that want to offer sports gaming, as well as the physical sportsbooks service providers. The window for those applications to be submitted to us just opened on June 15, so we have started to receive those licensing applications. (That window closed July 15).

(The OCC began accepting applications from liquor-permit holders that would like sports gaming kiosks on July 15, according to Franks. That date is also when applications from second “skins” will be accepted.)

Franks: We will, of course, accept applications after the deadlines and after the windows close. Those entities just may not be licensed to start on launch day.

'Potential to be a Really Large Market’

BetOhio: What’s the outlook for Ohio online gambling, a state with 13 professional sports franchises? Is Ohio projected to be one of the bigger markets to launch sports betting, is that accurate?

Franks: I’ve seen the same reports you probably have. I don’t remember what the Legislative Service Commission pegged the market at during their analysis of HB29, but I have seen a lot of the different reports that Ohio has the potential to be a really large market.

(For more on how the state will embrace sports betting, revisit this BetOhio survey from last month in partnership with YouGov Plc.)

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Contributors

Shelby Dermer is a reporter for BetOhio.com. Shelby has been a sports reporter for the Cincinnati Enquirer for the last five years and now lends his expertise to the Ohio sports betting market. He grew up in Waynesville, Ohio, and graduated from Ohio University.

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