The Ohio Casino Control Commission (OCCC) is under pressure as the January 1, 2023 Sports betting launch date approaches. The Commission has received hundreds of applications from newcomers looking to get into the sports betting industry.
Pressure on Ohio Commission
With just three months before the announced Ohio sports betting launch, Ohio regulators are facing a ton of pressure to meet all the required preparation. One of these was the evaluation and approval. In order to evaluate these applications, the Commission must perform due diligence and ensure that all applicants are qualified.
This licensing process is time-consuming, and the Commission is feeling pressure to make a decision quickly. This is a huge undertaking, and the Commission faces a lot of pressure to get it done right. In addition, Ohio is awarding three types of sports betting licenses which makes the work more complex compared to other states.
This is why OCCC Chairwoman June Taylor stated in the last East Coast Gaming Congress’ Friday panel that the process has been a “heavy lift” for them.
Another concern that makes it even more draining is the attention needed by the newcomers. While the Ohio Commission welcomes all interested businesses, it still leads to a “David vs. Goliath” feeling as they deal with those who are not fully aware of the regulatory process.
“When you are dealing with vendors and individuals at different levels, a lot of times people just need a little bit more time, a little bit more handholding to understand the process,” Taylor said.
Pressure in Ohio, Not the Same as the Other States
Following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) last 2018, more and more states have launched sports betting not just for entertainment but also to generate additional revenue for the state.
While pressure may be present in all of the states who are in the process of launching/expanding the sports betting market, the pressure on Ohio regulators is different as all types of sports wagering were set to go live not later than January 1, 2023.
Massachusets sports betting was signed last August 1, but no deadline was set for the launch while Maryland sports betting has been legalized last 2020. MD retail sportsbooks just launched last year while licenses for online sportsbooks will be on a rolling approval basis.
In addition, Executive Director Matt Schuler announced that at least 33% of the applicants are not complete in terms of requirements. This may result in further delay but Schuler stated that they can’t afford to wait.
The commission already explained to the applicants that there is still paperwork to be submitted and that the failure to complete all the requirements before October 5 will result in disqualification to join the universal launch date on New Year’s Eve.
No Time for Weekend Rest
With just a few months to process thousands of sports betting licenses before the market launches at midnight on Jan. 1, Ohio regulators do not have time for weekend rests. The process is already underway, with the Ohio Casino Control Commission issuing more than 800 licenses within the last few weeks.
“We’re no longer a Monday through Friday shop. Can’t afford to be,” Taylor said.
“We have the governor’s support to do seven days a week and we are doing in Ohio whatever is necessary to help our citizens know and be comfortable with the fact that with integrity, we’re trying to see everyone and help everyone that we can to get over that finish line,” She added.
But with so many applications to review, and only a limited number of staff members available to do the work, it’s clear that the commission will need to put in some long hours between now and New Year’s Eve. In addition to processing license applications, the commission also needs to develop regulations for the new industry, as well as create a system for monitoring and enforcing those rules.