Ohio Self-Serve Betting Machines to Be First in Nation

Beginning on January 1st, 2023, sports betting will be legal in Ohio. Betting will be legal to take place through smartphone applications, at casinos, racinos, sports stadiums, and other retail sportsbook facilities. However, Ohio will also be the first state in the nation to offer over 1,000 self-service betting machines in bars, restaurants, grocery, and convenience stores around the state.

Governor Mike DeWine signed House Bill 29, which legalized sports betting in Ohio, authorizing the move and giving oversight to the Casino Control Commission.

According to Kiosk.com, self-service betting machines aim to improve the customer experience by cutting down on wait time. With multiple self-service kiosks, available bettors can place a wager at their convenience rather than waiting in line, keeping patrons happier and returning more frequently.

Kiosks are restricted to four types of wagers: spreads, which are bets on outcomes against odds; over-under, which is a bet on whether the game score will be higher or lower than projected; money lines, which are bets predicting the winner without a point spread; and parlays, which are single bets on two to four outcomes, and each selection must win to collect the bet.

Self-service kiosks also allow for the use of cash, a voucher, or the sportsbook’s player account card that’s prepaid with funds; they can pay out winning tickets using various funding methods. Novice bettors may prefer to navigate through prompts on the screen than write down/remember “rotation numbers” with a teller, and patrons can sit down at some kiosks and live bet while watching games.

There are currently (at least) seven companies distributing the betting kiosks to approved businesses: Elys Game Technology, Green Bear Gaming Development (doing business as UBet Ohio), Intralot Inc., Skybox Sports Network Inc, Iron Gate Gaming, J&J Ventures, and Gold Rush Gaming.

“We look forward to expanding our U.S. footprint into the state of Ohio and importantly contribute to the grassroots economy by partnering with local businesses and passionate entrepreneurs. We believe that our cutting-edge Gameboard technology puts Elys in a league of its own as a first mover and pioneer in the U.S. small business sportsbook sector,” Michele Ciavarella, Executive Chairman of Elys said.

Grocery giant Kroger has been approved for 42 locations around Columbus, Cincinnati, and Dayton but will not have them installed by the launch date. The ACME fresh market has been approved at nine locations around Parma, Summit County, and North Canton.

According to Play Ohio, they took a survey asking Ohio sports bettors about all the places they will bet, and nearly 25 percent said they plan to bet via a kiosk (24.8 percent). 79 percent say they plan to bet online, and 20.8 percent of Ohio bettors say that they will place a bet at a retail sportsbook.

There are some concerns about kiosks coming to Ohio businesses.

According to the Ohio legislative director for the National Federation of Independent Business, Chris Ferruso, since the list of kiosk owners is publicly available, businesses could become targets for criminals.

“It will be known who has these permits, who’s able to do sports betting. If they’re sitting on tens of thousands of dollars in cash, they’re the target for robbery,” Ferruso said.

Another concern is how will the lottery and its network of retailers prevent underage betting.

Anyone 18 or older can buy an Ohio Lottery scratch-off ticket or an entry into its drawing games. However, the minimum age to place a sports betting wager is 21. This may not be an issue in bars. But maybe a problem where individuals under 21 may be present, especially if the host establishment offers self-serve kiosks.

According to betohio.com, they say that these first-of-a-kind self-serve machines can generate approximately $80 million in bets in the first year of legal betting. The self-serve betting kiosks have a $700 weekly maximum, and individuals cannot make prop bets or in-game bets on them.

“The weekly stake limits are a limiting factor for kiosks in particular, but the ease and responsiveness of online betting apps, along with their around-the-clock availability, simply make them a more useful option for most bettors most of the time,” PlayOhio lead analyst Eric Ramsey said.

The state has issued 11 retail casino and racino sports betting licenses, and 22 of the maximum retail sportsbooks are likely to be approved for action on January 1st, 2023. Also, 21 of the maximum 46 online sportsbooks will likely launch at the beginning of the new year.

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Hannah Poling is a lead reporter at The Ohio Star and The Star News Network. Follow Hannah on Twitter @HannahPoling1. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “Gambling Machines” by Darya Sannikova.


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