Ohioans bet big on the Super Bowl, but governor wants stiffer restrictions

By: - February 14, 2023 4:50 am
Getty Images photo of online sports betting.

Getty Images photo of online sports betting.

Sports betting is now legal in Ohio. But if you’ve watched television, listened to the radio, or scrolled through the internet anytime in the last six weeks you already heard that.

Perhaps you’ve already heard that a couple hundred times.

Data from geolocation firm GeoComply suggests that message got through. The company verifies bettors’ locations for sports books to confirm they can legally place wagers. GeoComply reported running 12.6 million geolocation checks and registering 1.1 million new accounts in Ohio over Super Bowl weekend.

According to the company, that was the second largest volume of any state where in which it operated.

Surveys ahead of the game indicated a drastic uptick in betting around the country. In a press release, the American Gaming Association said 50.4 million adults planned to place a bet on the game. That’s up 61% compared the previous record set last year.

Rosy outlook?

Naturally, representatives from GeoComply and AGA tout these increases as a success.

“The Super Bowl serves to highlight the benefits of legal sports betting,” AGA chief Bill Miller said. “Bettors are transitioning to the protections of the regulated market, leagues and sports media are seeing increased engagement, and legal operators are driving needed tax revenue to states across the country.”

GeoComply CEO Anna Sainsbury described Ohio as a “model state for the sports betting industry.”

“Ohio’s new market is working just as lawmakers intended,” she added. “It provides new protections for consumers and will deliver meaningful revenue to the state.”

Exactly how much revenue will have to wait. The Ohio Casino Control Commission which regulates sports betting releases revenue reports monthly. Figures for February won’t be out until the end of March.

Meanwhile, the governor’s recent budget proposal takes two notable swipes at the sports betting industry.

First, his spending plan proposes doubling the tax on a sports books’ gross receipts. And second, he proposes strict limits on the promotional credits companies use to entice new gamblers. The provisions would prohibit requiring bettors deposit their own money to get receive the credits or withdraw their winnings from the wager.

Just days after sports betting became legal in Ohio, DeWine publicly warned companies against excessive advertising saying some had “already crossed the line.” On January 5, the Casino Control Commission announced it was seeking $150,000 fines against BetMGM, Caesars and DraftKings for running ads without including messages about responsible gambling.

Follow OCJ Reporter Nick Evans on Twitter.

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Nick Evans
Nick Evans

Nick Evans has spent the past seven years reporting for NPR member stations in Florida and Ohio. He got his start in Tallahassee, covering issues like redistricting, same sex marriage and medical marijuana. Since arriving in Columbus in 2018, he has covered everything from city council to football. His work on Ohio politics and local policing have been featured numerous times on NPR.