After years of heated debate over the issue, sports betting in Ohio was approved and signed into law in December 2021.
A little over a year later, January 1, 2023 to be exact, America’s newest frontier for legal wagering on professional and collegiate sports was open for business.
In addition to legalizing sports betting for Buckeye State brick-and-mortar retail locations such as casinos, racinos, and sports venues, mobile betting apps, and online sportsbooks, the law provided for an intriguing third option: Kiosks in bars, restaurants, bowling alleys, and even grocery stores.
At the forefront of the development of Ohio’s fledgling sports betting industry is IGT’s PlaySports platform, which brings fully integrated technology and support to sports betting backed by one of the most trusted names in gaming.
Joe Asher, one of the most respected executives in the gaming industry, is IGT’s president of sports betting. He expressed enthusiasm over the deployment of IGT’s PlaySports QuickBet kiosks in bars and restaurants, observing that after the first two weeks of operation, rave reviews were coming in.
“Ohio is home to a big sports fan base and there’s a real sports betting culture there; add to that the professional and collegiate teams in the state like the Bengals, Browns, Cavaliers and Ohio State, and we knew there would be a great start when sports betting went live,” Asher said. “We installed kiosks in 15 locations, with another couple dozen kiosks already ordered. There are a lot of places in the state which potentially qualify to host sports betting kiosks so we expect the growth to be quick.
“It takes time to manufacture, install, and set the kiosks up. Our technicians are hustling to have the kiosks ready because of the great time of year it is on the sports calendar. Locations that won’t have them live by the Super Bowl want to have them up in time for March Madness. I expect a lot of installations will be completed in the near future.”
It was reported more than 1,000 businesses have received licenses to host kiosks. Ohio law makes provisions for as many as 2,500 kiosks statewide. PlaySports QuickBet kiosks are the most widely used self-service sports betting technology in the United States.
Asher explained that IGT PlaySports contracts with route operators, among them UBetOhio, to whom it provides the kiosks which they in turn provide to the licensed locations.
“IGT PlaySports has contracted with two of the route operators so far,” Asher said. “On the IGT side we are working with these two entities, but each of them may supply 100 or more bars and restaurants with our kiosks. They’re on the ground locally and they support the establishments, very similar to the route business for slot machines in Las Vegas.”
Ohio’s sports betting legislation authorizes three types of licenses: Type A for mobile apps and online betting; Type B for brick-and-mortar locations such as casinos and racinos; and Type C which allows for up to two sports betting kiosks in eligible locations.
The kiosks are regulated by the Ohio Lottery Commission rather than the Ohio Casino Control Commission and are subject to restrictions which Type A and B license holders are not required to uphold.
“The kiosks are the same kiosks in use at a retail sportsbook,” Asher explained. “We have over 700 in the field today, with FanDuel being our biggest kiosk customer. The betting menu is scaled down to abide by regulations, but the technology is exactly the same as in a sportsbook.”
According to Ohio law, the menu is limited to four types of sports wagers: Moneyline bets, over/under, bets on the point spread, and parlays with four or less parts.
Additionally, bettors are not permitted to wager more than $700 per calendar week across all licensed kiosks in the state, and with winnings of more than $599 the ticket must be brought to a regional lottery office for payment.
Sports betting and Ohio sports fans were made for one another. The professional and college teams which call the state home combine for natural enthusiasm that’s tough to beat anywhere else in the country.
Imagine the party atmosphere in bars and restaurants when the game is on TV and the crowd goes wild. Now imagine having betting kiosks in place for the fans to make wagers. There’s nothing like having a little “skin in the game” to add an entirely new dimension to the experience.
“All sports fans enjoy the Super Bowl, not just football fans,” Asher reminded. “Even the most casual horse racing fan may place a bet on the Kentucky Derby, just as the most casual football fan might make a bet on the Super Bowl.
“The Cincinnati Bengals playoff run has been great for business and Ohio sports betting. If they make it to the Super Bowl, well, that would be something else!”
Already in the works is to introduce IGT’s PlaySports Pad technology into the Ohio mix. It is a tablet-based innovation that can tether to a range of surfaces like a bar top or table top to brings sports betting directly to the player.
“The concept is simple,” Asher explained. “You give your ID to the proprietor and in turn “check out” a PlaySports Pad for your personal use. The user loads money into their account which allows them to place wagers.”
The State of Ohio estimates that sports betting will evolve into a $1.1 billion industry in its first full year of operation and could swell to $3.35 billion in the next several years.