Cincinnati Bengals First Professional Team to Apply for Sports Betting License in Ohio

Posted on: July 9, 2022, 11:10 a.m.

Last update: July 10, 2022, 2:11 a.m.

Three other entities filed sports betting license applications with the Ohio Casino Control Commission (OCCC) last week. Candidates include the first professional sports team in the state to apply for a license, as well as two top operators.

Paul Brown Stadium
Paul Brown Stadium, home of the NFL’s Cincinnati Bengals. On Friday, the Bengals became the first major professional sports team in Ohio to apply for a sports betting license. Sports betting is set to go live in Buckeye State on January 1. (Image: Jon Ridinger/Wikimedia Commons)

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

All of these entities can apply for online sports betting licenses as well as Type B licenses for in-person sports betting.

The Bengals did not file a Type B request on Friday. Technically, they don’t need to apply for a sports betting license in person, as they already have an established business in the state. However, it is also possible that they did not apply due to scheduling issues.

The universal launch date for all operators in Ohio is January 1, which is near the end of the NFL regular season. It is possible that the Bengals will choose to suspend the opening of a retail bookmaker – 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 – has been listed on the OCCC’s website. The commission said information about the partnership will be announced once the owner and supplier partner submit their applications.

Three other entities have submitted applications to host an online sports betting operator. These 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 Guangzhou. These three candidates are also looking to host a retail sports betting site.

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 Service Provider (MSP) to run a retail bookmaker for an owner. As with the Bengals, neither FanDuel nor Fanatics had an OCCC-listed partner.

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

Fanatics, the online sports mega-retailer, is just starting to enter the market after signaling plans 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 of MMSP candidates to six. Others include BetMGM, PointsBet, DraftKings and Barstool. FanDuel and Fanatics have also joined BetMGM and JACK Cleveland Casino as MSP license applicants.

It is likely that a large number of applicants for owner and supplier licenses will come forward in the coming week. The OCCC has issued a July 15 deadline for entities wishing to be able to go live on the universal start date of January 1. The commission will continue to accept applications after this date. But it’s not guaranteed that these apps will be approved in time for a New Year’s Day launch.

Lawmakers have capped the number of online owners at 25, although more can be added if an economic analysis deems it favourable. The number of physical sports bets will be limited to 40.

More than 850 bars prequalified for kiosks

Ohio sports betting law also allows kiosks to be set up in some bars in the state. A company, Elys Gameboard Technologies, asked to offer kiosks.

The state won’t begin accepting applications from eligible law societies until next Friday. Establishments that submit their documents before August 15 will be able to offer sports betting on January 1 if approved.

Kiosks, considered Type C sports betting under Ohio law, are the sports betting portion of the state lottery. In preparation for the opening of its application window, the Ohio Lottery Commission (OLC) has begun pre-qualifying establishments for licensing. As of Friday, 853 bars across the state have been pre-qualified by the commission.

The OCCC will issue licenses to these hosts based on the recommendation of the lottery. However, the OLC website states that the referral is only part of the application process and does not guarantee licensure.

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

Milton S. Rodgers