Ohio Considers ‘Use Or Lose’ For Sports Betting Licenses

Ohio Considers ‘Use Or Lose’ For Sports Betting Licenses
Fact Checked by Jim Tomlin

A deadline for approved Ohio sports betting operators to begin accepting wagers online, open brick-and-mortar sportsbooks or start taking wagers through kiosks is less than two months away. However, state regulators may consider giving idle operators additional time, BetOhio.com has learned.

The possibility of another extension comes as the Ohio Casino Control Commission has proposed a new “use or lose” rule that would strip operators of their licenses if they have not been used in the previous year. In addition, those operators would not be allowed to apply again for at least a year before their license was set to expire.

Last November, the OCCC announced that approved operators that had yet to start taking wagers would have until June 30 of this year to launch. That gave those licensees a six-month extension. The commission then proposed its new rule on April 26.

Jessica Franks, the OCCC director of communications, told BetOhio on Friday that state regulators may grant an additional waiver soon. The commission typically meets monthly and is expected to have two meetings before the June 30 deadline takes effect.

Proposal At 'Very Beginning’ Of Process

The proposed “use or lose” rule for Ohio sportsbook apps or other outlets still must go through Ohio’s review process, which includes a formal review by the state’s Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review. That means it will not take effect before June 30.

“The proposed amendments will undergo the same rules process as all other Commission rules – as we are at the very beginning of this process, final versions will not take effect until later this year,” Franks said.

Affected Ohio Sportsbook Licensees

Ohio’s sports betting law states that online, retail and kiosk operators must partner with an eligible entity to be considered for a license. Eligible entities include casinos, racinos, major league sports teams and other businesses that are considered to generate economic development in the state. Kiosk operators must partner with Ohio Lottery retailers that have certain liquor licenses.

According to OCCC data, Underdog Sports is the only online operator with an “active conditional” license – the status an approved applicant has before a launch. Proprietors with active conditional licenses include the Cincinnati Reds, Underdog’s partner; JACK Thistledown Racino, which partnered with now-defunct WynnBet; and the Cleveland Cavaliers, which partnered with now-defunct Fubo Gaming.

Retail licenses with an active conditional license include the Pro Football Hall of Fame Village in Canton, Muirfield Village Golf Course in Dublin, SPIRE Institute in Geneva, Phantom Fireworks in Youngstown and Lori’s Roadhouse in West Chester.

Retail operators with active conditional licenses include BetRivers and Prime Sports. The former, which operates the online BetRivers Ohio Sportsbook, previously partnered with the Hall of Fame Village, though neither is currently listed as the other’s partner. Prime is partnered with the SPIRE Institute.

Joe Brennan, Prime’s executive president, told BetOhio the company still has plans to open a retail book.

Bookmark BetOhio.com to follow more industry news and get the best Ohio sports betting promotions available. 

USA Today Network photo by Adam Cairns/Columbus Dispatch



Steve is an accomplished, award-winning reporter with more than 20 years of experience covering gaming, sports, politics and business. He has written for the Associated Press, Reuters, The Louisville Courier Journal, The Center Square and numerous other publications. Based in Louisville, Ky., Steve has covered the expansion of sports betting in the U.S. and other gaming matters.

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