Ohio sports betting is still months away from its official launch, but that has not stopped industry experts from sharing their excitement over the state’s potential market.

Ohio sports betting will launch on Jan. 1, 2023, and has been described as the “largest ever simultaneous launch of sports betting in the U.S.,” by Ohio Casino Control Commission Executive Director Matthew Schuler.

Retail sports betting, online sports betting, and kiosk sports betting will all receive the go-ahead to launch in the New Year. The simultaneous launch of numerous online skins, casinos and sports franchises opening brick-and-mortar sports books, and sports betting kiosks at establishments with qualified liquor licenses poses a unique challenge for the Buckeye State, but one that also holds a great deal of promise for the Ohio sports betting market as a whole.

“You’re going to see a lot of opportunity for people to interact in the Ohio sports betting market right away. Ohio definitely has the potential to be a top-10 market in the country due to its low tax threshold, its competitive nature allowing for many operators, and its bevy of opportunities to access sports betting,” said Brandt Iden, U.S. Head of Government Affairs for Sportradar and a former Michigan state representative.

But exactly what are sports betting industry experts expecting out of Ohio? We asked Iden and Dan Dodd, a former Ohio state representative and current ZHF Consulting LLC. V.P. of Government Relations, their thoughts on the Buckeye State’s upcoming sports betting program.

Both told Saturday Tradition that Ohio will be a top-10 market in the country, and may even have the potential to work its way into the top 5.

Ohio’s sports betting market will be huge

Ohio boasts several advantages over other states that may ensure its overall success. The sheer number of potential operators, which tops out at 46 online sports betting skins, 40 in-person sportsbook licenses, and hundreds of sports betting kiosks, gives Ohio a high ceiling to capture a large sports betting market, Dodd said.

Ohioans will be able to bet on their phones, at casinos, at stadiums and arenas, and at restaurants or bars with class-D liquor licenses. The sheer amount of betting opportunity in the state is unmatched, he said. All of the well known sports betting companies, such as Caesars Sportsbook, DraftKings, and Fanduel, will be available and should all be ready to launch on Jan. 1.

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Ohio’s devotion to college sports, and the bill’s allowance for in-state college sports betting, even gives it an advantage over New York, the most robust sports betting market in the U.S. New York disallows sports betting on in-state colleges.

“Ohio has a tremendous opportunity and great potential based on the amount of people that follow sports here, and the number of opportunities they’ll have to place bets through mobile, 40 retail facilities, and hundreds of kiosks,” he said.

Ohio top-5 market potential?

The state’s unique sports environment, with its thriving college sports scene and dedicated fans of seven professional sports franchises, should eventually allow Ohio to settle in as a top-five market based on total handle in the country, Dodd predicted.

“Ohio will eventually be a top-five market. When you look at the sports environment in Ohio, we are somewhat unique that we have no shortage of professional sports franchises in the major leagues and also have arguably the largest college football program in the nation in Ohio State,” Dodd said.

While Ohio will have a massive market, and will certainly be one of the top-10 in the country, a top-five market ask may be too much of a hill to climb, Iden said. Ohio will have to compete with the likes of New Jersey, New York, and Nevada to crack into the top sports betting states in the U.S.

Ohio’s low tax threshold and large number of potential online operators will provide for initial market success, but in order to compete with the top-five markets in the country it lacks a final element.

“Ohio will need to offer online lottery and online casino. A rising tide lifts all ships. Ohio will need online casino if it wants to find itself as one of the top-five markets in the country,” Iden predicted.

Jan. 1 universal launch date has distinct advantages

The universal start date for the three arms of Ohio sports betting, Dodd said, will give each sports betting operator the same advantages regardless of size or experience. Operators that launch earlier have a distinct advantage in their market over those who cannot launch at such a rapid rate, he noted.

The universal start date will also be a boon for retail sports betting operators and those who acquire kiosk licenses. Online operators can typically launch much faster than their retail brethren, Dodd noted, and may preclude Ohio sports bettors from ever considering making bets at in-person brick-and-mortar establishments.

It allows all operators, whether retail, online, or kiosk based, to begin capturing players at the same time, Iden said.

Of course, every single entity launching on the same day offers some interesting challenges. The Ohio Casino Control Commission, which is overseeing Ohio sports betting, gave itself six months to work out any foreseeable kinks before the New Year launch.

But most companies who procure a license will already be working in other states and have the necessary experience to getting these programs off the ground, Dodd said.

“It’s a heavy lift to launch not only on the same day, but to launch on January 1, which is a big sports day. But, when you have this big of a launch there’s never going to be a perfect day to do it. By and large, most companies coming here are operating in other states already. There is a good sense of what it takes to launch.”

What’s the future of Ohio sports betting?

It’s unlikely Ohio will ever tap into its maximum number of 46 online operators, Dodd predicted. The increased costs and regulatory efforts for every eligible Type A license holder to acquire a second operator skin makes this an unlikely scenario.

Dodd said he foresees about 30 online operators when Ohio’s sports betting market has reached full maturity. The high number of potential operators will ensure a mix of the larger sports betting companies and a number of smaller operators that will help diversify Ohio’s overall sports betting product.

“These companies know that consumers don’t want 30 different versions of the same thing. It’s much more so here in Ohio, because all operators will have the ability to to launch on the same day. It will be that much more important for online skins to offer something unique, something compelling, about their product to set them apart.”

Ohio sports betting will come out of the gates very strong in 2023, Iden said, and if it hopes to continue its momentum Ohio legislators should seriously consider legalizing online gaming as well, Iden stressed.