Ohio Sets October Deadline For Applications, Or Disqualification From January Launch

September 8, 2022
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With less than four months to go before the launch of retail and mobile sports betting in the Buckeye State, Ohio’s top gaming regulator expressed frustration with applicants who have yet to submit information concerning their beneficial owners and leadership personnel that will oversee operations.

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With less than four months to go before the launch of retail and mobile sports betting in the Buckeye State, Ohio’s top gaming regulator expressed frustration with applicants who have yet to submit information concerning their beneficial owners and leadership personnel that will oversee operations.

Matt Schuler, executive director of the Ohio Casino Control Commission (OCCC), said that about 33 percent of sports wagering applicants pending before the commission are out of compliance with the requirement to also submit applications for key employees and holding companies for regulators to determine if they are suitable.

“If you can’t do this, we cannot give you a license,” Schuler told the six-member commission in his monthly presentation on Wednesday (September 7).

Schuler said stakeholders have been reminded of this requirement several times, including through multiple rule drafts, through FAQ answers and updates sent out in February, March, April and May, and in application form drafts and the final application itself.

He said there have also been reminders at commission meetings.

“It is not like we posted this stuff and expected people to find it,” Schuler said. “We sent it to 400 stakeholders plus individuals that are on our lists multiple times.”

He noted that originally these applications were supposed to be submitted by May 24. Schuler said all the communication with stakeholders was carried out in advance of that deadline.

The OCCC’s licensing division has been contacting applicants to encourage them submit these applications.

“All applicants expressed to the General Assembly that they wanted to start on time, at the same time, so in order to do that they all have to keep pace,” Schuler said. “We have many responsibilities in front of us between now and January 1.”

“In other words,” Schuler said, “we don't have the time or resources to carry anyone across the finish line.”

Schuler told commissioners that officials have now set a deadline of October 5 for license applicants to submit the key employee and holding company applications. If a business fails to do so, they will be “disqualified from guaranteed consideration for the universal state date,” he added.

“They can sit on the sidelines while everyone else who has done the work and kept pace is going to make it across that finish line, period.”

Ohio’s sports-betting market will go live on a universal start date of January 1, 2023.

In another action on Wednesday, Ohio gaming regulators approved sports wagering licenses for the National Football League’s Cleveland Browns, Major League Soccer’s Columbus Crew, and the Cincinnati Reds of Major League Baseball.

Commissioners deferred license approval for the NFL’s Cincinnati Bengals and MLS’ FC Cincinnati to a later date because neither organization had representatives at the meeting.

In addition to the professional franchises, commissioners signed off on mobile and retail sports betting licenses for JACK Cleveland Casino, JACK Thistledown Racino, Muirfield Village Golf Club Subsidiary, Hollywood Casino Toledo, and Hollywood Gaming at Mahoning Valley.

Ohio's legislation authorizes the commission to award up to 25 so-called Type A mobile licenses, with incumbent casinos and racinos and professional sports teams and facilities receiving preferential treatment. Up to 40 Type B retail sportsbook licenses also can be awarded.

Meanwhile, the OCCC on Wednesday awarded a further 300 Type C licenses to bars, restaurants and other retailers allowing them to host betting kiosks. In August, the commission approved Type C licenses for 200 bars and restaurants.

Before applying to the commission, Type C applicants first need a recommendation from the Ohio Lottery. To be considered an applicant, a location must hold both a valid liquor permit and lottery sales agent license.

The commission also formally approved its fourth batch of sports-betting regulations, including requiring approved licensees to submit a plan to address and prevent disordered and problem gambling, as well as regulations for employee and supplier licenses.

Its fifth and final batch of rules will be considered October 5, the commission said.

Another deadline of November 2 was set for applicants to submit complete and final compliance materials, including facility plans, geolocation procedures, house rules and responsible gambling procedures, which must be turned into the commission by that date or else they might not be granted a license to begin operations on January 1.

Also on Wednesday, the OCCC updated its published FAQs on sports betting on its website to include various new guidance for prospective operators and suppliers on various compliance matters.

Among other things, regulators clarified that certain novelty bets related to sporting events, such as the Super Bowl coin toss, will not be approved even if requested by operators and underlined that ads promoting free bets would be permissible only if the bettor does not have to deposit any money to qualify for the promotion.

The updated FAQs also include new guidance on the regulatory requirement for deposit limits to be offered to patrons through an easy and obvious method as part of the account creation process.

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