Cincinnati Tops the Online Wagering Numbers & Three Sportsbooks Receive Fines for Violations in Ohio

Mike Hilton #21 and Jackson Carman #79 of the Cincinnati Bengals celebrate after defeating the Baltimore Ravens 27-16 at Paycor Stadium on January 08, 2023 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Dylan Buell/Getty Images/AFP

Legalized online sports betting flourished during its debut as the state received more transactions and unique users than any other state in its first two days of business. 

The Buckeye State welcomed legalized online sports betting with open arms on New Year’s Day; GeoComply picked up 11.3 million transactions over more than 700,000 unique accounts between Jan 1 and Jan 2. And despite the significant differential in population, these transaction figures were only 6 million less than New York from its opening weekend last year.  

State  Jan. 1 and 2, 2023 Transactions  Unique Accounts  Population  
Ohio  11.3m  783.9k 11.8m  
New York  9.3m  460k 19.8m 
Pennsylvania 8.2m 527.4k  13m  
New Jersey  6.7m  423.4k  9.3m  
Michigan  5.8m  418.5k  10m 

High Figures in Cincinnati  

Despite its smaller population, Cincinnati topped the Columbus online transactions with 1.9 million, giving it more than any other city in Ohio during the state’s opening days with legalized online wagering.  

In fact, Cincinnati nearly doubled the 1 million transactions in Columbus and received more than twice as many transactions over Cleveland (772,000) and Toledo (619,000).  

Kentucky residents could’ve assisted Ohio locals as it’s the only state that borders Ohio and doesn’t have legal sports wagering of its own. Major League Baseball’s Cincinnati Reds team also has a retail partnership with BetMGM.  

Ohio Sports Betting Success Expected to Continue  

Since Ohio’s sports betting legalization in 2021, more than 12 retail sportsbooks and 16 apps have become readily available. It wasn’t a surprise that Buckeye State’s online sports wagering launch was a huge success. With such vast betting options, New Jersey and Arizona are the only states offering more online sports wagering options.   

Ohio is the fourth-most populous state with legalized sports betting, and residents are expected to be over $8 billion in 2023. This would place Ohio as the fourth-largest market, trailing New York, Illinois, and New Jersey.  

“We are thrilled to welcome another state into the regulated online sports betting sector,” commented the Senior Vice President of Compliance at GeoComply. “As expected, residents of the Buckeye State enthusiastically greeted the market when the calendar changed to 2023.”  

The Ohio Casino Control Commission isn’t Messing Around 

Let this be a lesson to the sportsbook operators providing services in Ohio. Follow the rules, or you will be punished.  

The Casino Control Commission of Ohio contacted DraftKings, Caesars, and BetMGM due to the violations in their advertisements that didn’t comply with the Commission’s rules on Ohio sportsbooks.  

“The sports gaming industry has received multiple reminders of the rules and standards for advertising and promotions, yet continues to disregard Ohio law,” said Matt Schuler, Executive Director at the OCCC. “These repeated violations leave the Commission no choice but to pursue administrative action to bring operators into compliance. The Commission takes responsible gambling seriously – and expects the industry to value the same.”  

The OCC claims that three sportsbook operators broke the same rules, which could result in a $150,000 fine or more.  

1. The operators or their affiliate marketers ran ads that did not “clearly and conspicuously contain a message designed to prevent problem gambling as well as a helpline number to help across resources.”  

2. Each company used the words “free” or “risk-free” in ads for promos or bonuses where bettors were required to risk their own money to get the promo dollars. Ohio’s regulations expressly prohibit using that language when bettors have to deposit and risk their own money.      

BetMGM and Caesars violated the rules in Ohio for the first time, while DraftKings is now on its second.    

Penn Entertainment’s Barstool Sportsbook also received a notice of violation after Barstool promoted a sign-up offer during a college football show near the University of Toledo.