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Explainer: Sports betting to begin in Ohio with new year

sports betting lounge
Wayne Parry
Football fans wait for kickoff in the sports betting lounge at the Ocean Casino Resort in Atlantic City, N.J., Sept. 9, 2018.

The start of the new year brings legalized sports betting to Ohio with plenty of options for placing a bet.

A year ago, Republican Gov. Mike DeWine signed legislation allowing sports gambling — a move made possible by a 2018 U.S. Supreme Court decision striking down a federal ban on states legalizing sports wagering. Ohio is joining more than 30 other states where fans can bet on sports.

The legislation creates three types of licenses that will be overseen by the state’s Casino Control Commission. Those licenses govern mobile wagering such as on a phone app; gambling in sportsbooks run by casinos, racinos and professional sport teams; and bars, restaurants and other retail sites with self-service gaming kiosks.

The state’s Legislative Service Commission has estimated that sports betting will eventually become a multibillion-dollar industry in Ohio.

When does this start?

It begins as soon as the clock hits midnight after New Year's Eve. The Hard Rock Sportsbook in Cincinnati has invited Pete Rose to place the first legal bet there. Rose, of course, agreed to a lifetime ban from baseball in 1989 after an investigation found he placed numerous bets on the Reds while playing for and managing the team.

Where can people place bets?

Adults age 21 and older who are physically in the state will be able to place bets just about anywhere at anytime. Most bets will be made through sports gaming apps on phones. Casinos and racinos are opening sportsbooks where you can make a bet and watch games. Pro sports teams and the Football Hall of Fame in Canton also are making plans to open sportsbooks. Gaming kiosks will be set up around the state in hundreds of licensed bars, restaurants, bowling alleys and grocery stores too.

While the biggest sports betting apps are expected to take wagers immediately, some of the sportsbooks and kiosks will delay their starts, so bettors may want to check before going. Kroger, the country’s biggest traditional grocery chain, is delaying opening kiosks in its 42 licensed stores until well after the beginning of the year. The Ohio Casino Control Commission has said 16 companies would be ready to offer online betting on Jan 1.

Where and how will betting kiosks operate?

The Ohio Lottery Commission will oversee the rules and operation of the kiosks and plans to have a list of locations. The kiosks will have instructions for players and be limited to taking specific wagers: bets on point spreads, over-under, money lines and parlays.

What wages are allowed?

Pro sports in the U.S., college sports, some international sports and even esports. People can also bet on auto racing, Olympic events and professional golf and tennis. But there’s no wagering allowed on high school games, pre-recorded events or some prop bets, such as whether a certain player will be injured or how many penalties or timeouts are called.

Will winnings be taxed?

You bet. How much will depend on how much the bettor makes in a year. Online sportsbooks will track a person's winnings. If you win big, it's likely that you'll be sent a tax form. The IRS requires you to report gambling wins as income. Meanwhile, operators will pay a 10% tax on net revenue to help fund K-12 education and problem gambling programs.