Online leads the way

Ohio’s results for the first month of legal sports betting are in and they are good. According to figures provided by the Ohio Casino Control Commission (OCCC), operators brought in $1.11 billion in handle in January, second only to New York ($1.79 billion).

There are 16 online and 14 retail sportsbooks in the Buckeye State and the online sites completely dominated. Of the $1.11 billion in handle, $1.09 billion came in online. Though online betting tends to easily outperform retail in states where both are available, Ohio’s 98% online share was more than any other state. The closest was Pennsylvania at just over 93%.

From the total handle, betting operators generated $208.9 million in revenue, which is effectively gross profit: total bets taken minus winnings awarded. Net profit, however, was negative because operators dished out $320 million in promotional credits. The state does not allow the latter figure to be deducted from taxable revenue, though, so the operators had to pay 10% tax on the $208.9 million.

As one might expect, FanDuel and DraftKings were the dominant online sports betting operators in Ohio last month (though FanDuel’s brick-and-mortar sportsbook at Belterra Park was near the bottom of the retail handle list). FanDuel had $494.2 million in handle in January and $103.2 million in revenue, while DraftKings had $344 million in handle and $55.1 million in revenue.

Rounding out the top five in handle were BetMGM, Barstool, and perhaps surprisingly, Bet365. Barstool and Bet365 flipped positions when it came to revenue.

As mentioned, the Ohio sportsbooks operators paid $320 in promotional credits and bonuses, so on the whole, they were in the red. Only two online operators ended up in the black: Caesars ($413,450) and Betr ($11,160). The betting handle leaders lost massive amounts of money because of all the promotional bucks it gave out. FanDuel lost $65.4 million in January, while DraftKings lost $31.6 million.

Success brings hurdles

As the sports betting industry in Ohio matures, the state and its operators will have to learn how to handle the problems that come with success. Last week, the OCCC revealed that Problem Gambling Helpline calls more than doubled in January compared to the previous month more than tripled compared to January 2022.

In January 2023, the helpline averaged about 48 calls per day. In December 2022, that number was just 20, and in January 2022, the figure was only 15 calls per day. The biggest increase came from the 18-to-34-year-old age bracket.

As is the case in other states, gambling advertising has become a hot topic of conversation in Ohio, particularly as operators learn to navigate regulations. In the first week of legal sports betting in the state, DraftKings received a notice of violation from the OCCC for allegedly mailing ads to about 2,500 underage individuals. Barstool Sports promoted gambling on a college campus.

In general, the OCCC warned operators that ads that they and their affiliate marketers put out must “clearly and conspicuously contain a message designed to prevent problem gambling as well as a helpline number to help access resources” and cannot have language that promotes “risk-free” or “free” bets.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *