Certain casinos interested in opening sportsbooks in the state’s most populous counties may be left wanting if the Ohio sports betting bill is approved as is.

Language in the recently approved Ohio sports betting bill gives preference to the state’s professional sports teams if they wish to apply for a Type A or Type B sports betting license. The bill also puts limits on the amount of Type B licenses, those for brick-and-mortar sportsbooks, in Ohio counties by population. This would likely shut out existing casinos from Type B licenses if professional sports franchises are given preference.

Ohio sports betting bill limits existing casinos

Shutting gambling companies out with an artificial cap in these counties, which are also the state’s most populous, does not make sense, Daniel Reinhard, Senior Vice President of Governmental Affairs for JACK Entertainment, told Saturday Tradition.

“We’re going work very hard in the House, and we’ll continue to work with the Senate, to work through this particular issue. But as the bill stands today we cannot support it,” he said.

The bill sets limits on the number of Type B licenses for counties with populations greater than 100,000. Counties with 100,000 to 500,000 shall have no more than 1 Type B license, counties with populations between 500,000 and 1 million shall have no more than two Type B licenses and counties with populations of more than 1 million will have no more than three Type B licenses. All population figures were based on the 2010 U.S. census.

There are 11 casinos and racinos in the state eligible to apply for sports betting licenses. Many of these casinos are located in counties with professional sports teams and could potentially be shut out of sportsbook licenses if trumped by interested franchises.

JACK Entertainment currently has two casinos in Cuyahoga County and the Cavaliers, Browns and Indians are also in the county. All of those franchises have expressed interest and submitted testimony in favor of Ohio sports betting. If all of the franchises are awarded Type B licenses, the existing casinos would be shut out.

“It’s unfair to those business, and it’s extremely unfair to those Ohio employees who staff all those buildings and work in those buildings,” Reinhard told Saturday Tradition.

Ohio sports betting bill needs work

Too much work has gone into the bill to scrap it, Reinhard noted, but it should be held over the summer to work through these license capping issues.

I think they had a goal to get some geographic diversity in the sate, I understand that, but the unintended consequence of shutting us out is just not something that will work for the gaming companies. We’ll continue to push hard and make that argument,” he said. 

Here are the counties eligible for Type B licenses and the number of casinos/racinos and professional sports franchises located in each.

County Population (2010 U.S. Census) Available Type B Licenses Number of Casinos/Racinos Number of Eligible Professional Sports Franchises
Allen County 106,331 1 0 0
Ashtabula County 101,497 1 0 0
Butler County 368,130 1 0 0
Clark County 138,333 1 0 0
Clermont County 197,363 1 0 0
Columbiana County 107,841 1 0 0
Cuyahoga County 1,280,122 3 2 3
Delaware County 174,214 1 0 0
Fairfield County 146,156 1 0 0
Franklin County 1,163,414 3 2 2
Hamilton County 802,374 2 2 3
Lake County 230,041 2 0 0
Licking County 166,492 1 0 0
Lorain County 301,356 1 0 0
Lucas County 441,815 1 1 0
Mahoning County 238,823 1 1 0
Medina County 172,332 1 0 0
Miami County 102,506 1 0 0
Montgomery County 535,153 2 1 0
Portage County 161,419 1 0 0
Richland County 124,475 1 0 0
Stark County 375,586 1 0 0
Summit County 541,781 2 1 0
Trumbull County 210,312 1 0 0
Warren County 212,693 1 1 0
Wayne County 114,520 1 0 0
Wood County 125,488 1 0 0

If signed into law, committee chairman State Senator Kirk Schuring (R) said the bill will go into effect this October and the state would begin accepting applications for sports betting licenses on Jan. 1, 2022, with the goal of awarding licenses no later than April 1, 2022.