With several sports betting operators ready to go live on Sunday, Ohioans will have plenty of choices when it comes to betting. They’ll also have plenty of options when it comes to grand opening events, too.
Sportsbooks and online apps can officially take bets as soon as 12:01 am ET, or as Ohio Casino Control Commission Executive Director Matt Schuler described earlier this year, when the ball drops at Times Square. And a few operators will do just that.
Hard Rock Casino in Cincinnati will have Pete Rose, a native son and Cincinnati Reds icon exiled from baseball due to betting on his team, place the first wager at its sportsbook right after midnight. It’s not the first time Hard Rock has had Rose celebrate an opening. Last year, he played the first hand of blackjack at the Downtown casino after it was rebranded from JACK Cincinnati.
BetMGM will hold two events on New Year’s Day. The first will take place shortly after midnight at MGM Northfield Park in the Cleveland suburbs. Then, at 11 am, BetMGM representatives will celebrate the opening of its sportsbook at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati.
In Cincy, the sportsbook plans to let a longtime Reds season ticketholder place the first bet. In addition, other luminaries set to attend the opening are George Foster, a two-time MVP and Reds legend, and Tim Krumrie, a former Cincinnati Bengals great.
Elsewhere in Cincinnati, Betfred plans a daylong Sunday event at the Fowling Warehouse. The launch party includes a meet and greet with Bengals Hall of Fame tackle Anthony Munoz. There will also be ticket giveaways to Bengals games against the Buffalo Bills and Baltimore Ravens as well as an “Ohio’s Best Bettor” competition that includes prizes totaling $10,000 in bonus bets.
Not All Ready for Launch
Not everyone, though, is planning to go live on New Year’s Day, even some who have already been approved.
Officials from Out The Gate have told Casino.org they plan to launch later in the first quarter of 2023. The commission conditionally approved the emerging company to operate a mobile sports betting application and a retail sportsbook in Ashtabula County as part of a partnership with SPIRE Institute in the northeastern corner of the state.
Meanwhile, Phantom Fireworks, which has received conditional approval to host a retail sportsbook, is working to find a new site. Bill Weimer, the pyrotechnic retailer’s vice president and general counsel, told Casino.org back in July that the Covelli Centre, an arena in Youngstown, was where the sportsbook would be located.
However, on Wednesday, Weimer told WFMJ-TV that plan did not pan out, and Phantom is going back to the drawing board.
Three Pull Out of Application Process
Some sportsbooks never made it past the application phase in Ohio and have withdrawn their applications.
Both Fubo Sportsbook and MaximBet pulled out of sports betting entirely after submitting their applications for licenses. Fubo made its decision after it failed to find a strategic partner for its gaming operations. MaximBet cited “an increasingly cost-prohibitive marketplace” as its reason for calling it quits.
Another applicant that withdrew is Prophet Exchange, which currently operates a sports betting exchange in New Jersey.
We were not ready for the Jan. 1 launch in Ohio, and therefore, decided to pause the licensing process,” the company said in a statement to Casino.org this month. “We continue to remain laser focused on improving our New Jersey product at this time.”
Meanwhile, two other companies have yet to be approved for mobile licenses. Those are WynnBet and PlayUp. The latter faces a possible denial of its application. Earlier this month, OCCC officials determined PlayUp conducted illegal betting and engaged in misleading advertising claiming that its Slots+ product was legal in Ohio.
PlayUp plans to contest the commission’s decision and has requested an appeals hearing.
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