Published: July 9, 2022

Cincinnati Bengals First Pro Team to Apply for Ohio Sports Betting License

Three more entities filed applications for sports betting licenses with the Ohio Casino Control Commission (OCCC) this past week. The applicants include the state’s first professional sports team to seek a license as well as two high-profile operators.

The Cincinnati Bengals filed an application on Friday to serve as a Type A, or online sports betting, proprietor. It’s one of eight major professional sports franchises eligible to apply for a license through the law the state legislature passed late last year. Muirfield Village Golf Club, which hosts the PGA Tour’s Memorial Tournament, and Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, which hosts a NASCAR race, are also eligible to apply, as are the state’s four casinos and seven racinos.

All those entities can apply for both online sports betting licenses as well as the Type B licenses for in-person sportsbooks.

The Bengals did not file a Type B application on Friday. Technically, they don’t need to apply for an in-person sportsbook license since they already have an established business in the state. However, it’s also possible they did not apply because of timing issues.

The universal launch date for all operators in Ohio is Jan. 1, which is near the end of the NFL’s regular season, it’s possible that the Bengals may choose to hold off on opening a retail sportsbook – if they open one at all – until the start of the 2023 season.

No mobile management service provider (MMSP) – Ohio’s term for an online sports betting operator – was listed on the OCCC’s website. The commission said partnership information will be announced once the proprietor and the partnering provider have submitted their applications.

Three other entities have submitted applications to host an online sports betting operator. They are JACK Cleveland Casino, JACK Thistledown Racino, and HOF Village Newco, which operates a sports and entertainment district near the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton. Those three applicants are also seeking to host a retail sportsbook as well.

Two More Operators Apply in Ohio

In addition to the Bengals, FanDuel and Fanatics applied on Friday to be both an MMSP and a management services provider (MSP) to run a retail sportsbook for a proprietor. As with the Bengals, neither FanDuel nor Fanatics had a partner listed by the OCCC.

FanDuel is considered to be one of the top two national sports betting operators in the US market, along with DraftKings. The Flutter Entertainment brand operates in-person retail sportsbooks and/or online platforms in 17 US states.

Fanatics, the online sports mega-retailer, is just now starting to get into the market, after signaling its intentions to get into sports betting last year. Late last month, the company got its first approval for a license in Maryland.

FanDuel and Fanatics bring the number MMSP applicants to six. The others include BetMGM, PointsBet, DraftKings, and Barstool. FanDuel and Fanatics also joined BetMGM and JACK Cleveland Casino as applicants for an MSP license.

It’s likely a large number of applicants for proprietor and provider licenses will be coming forward in the week ahead. The OCCC issued a deadline of July 15 for those entities who want to be able to go live on the Jan. 1 universal start date. The commission will continue to accept applications after that date, but it’s not guaranteed those applications will be approved in time for a New Year’s Day launch.

Lawmakers capped the number of online proprietors at 25, though it’s possible more could be added if an economic analysis considers it favorable. The number of brick-and-mortar sportsbooks will be limited to 40.

More Than 850 Bars Prequalified for Kiosks

Ohio’s sports betting law also allows for kiosks to be set up in certain bars across the state. One company, Elys Gameboard Technologies, has applied to offer kiosks.

The state will not begin accepting applications from the eligible bars until next Friday, and those establishments that submit their paperwork by Aug. 15 will be able to offer sports betting on Jan. 1 if they are approved.

The kiosks, considered Type C sports betting under Ohio’s law, are the state lottery’s portion of sports betting, and in preparation for their application window to open, the Ohio Lottery Commission (OLC) has started to pre-qualify establishments for licensure. Through Friday, 853 bars across the state have been pre-qualified by the commission.

The OCCC will issue licenses to those hosts based on the lottery’s recommendation. However, the OLC’s website indicates that the recommendation is just one part of the application process and does not ensure licensure.

Once establishments receive licenses to host kiosks, they can enter into partnerships with a kiosk provider.

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