The Buckeye state officially opened the doors to their legalized betting market on January 1st of this year, becoming the 33rd state to do so. However, the media response to the launching has been tumultuous to say the least.
In 2018, the Supreme Court decided to take down PASPA, legislation that prohibited the legalization of sports betting in the United States. It didn’t take long for sportsbook after sportsbook all over the country to begin pushing towards opening markets, and a large amount of state’s decided to give the go-ahead. Since 2018, 33 states and Washington D.C. have legalized sports betting to some extent, some even allowing mobile betting.
Overall, the media response to the opening of the US betting market has been complex and multifaceted, reflecting diverse opinions and viewpoints on this issue. While some have given focus to the potential revenues and their repurposing as funding for educational projects and anti-problem gambling organizations, others have focused on the risk of increased gambling advertisements and exposure for under-age persons.
The legislation rollout for betting in Ohio was no exception to this multi-faceted media response.
The legislative process of sports betting in Ohio
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine signed the legislation which would legalize sports betting in the state in late 2021, giving sports bettors a year to prepare for the grand opening on January 1st, 2023. The law stated that both physical and mobile gambling would be allowed means of gambling. The legislation initially included a 10% tax on betting revenues, out of which 98% would go to public funding of K-12 education and the remaining 2% to problem gambling assistance.
Since the legislation began to roll out, the media response has generally been positive and focused on the potential revenues as well as the possibilities of a larger job market opening up. In addition, some media outlets focused on the consumer benefits of legalizing sports betting in Ohio, such as providing a safe and regulated environment for betting and the potential for increased transparency and integrity in sporting events. They also noted that legalizing sports betting would allow Ohio residents to bet on their favorite teams and sporting events without having to travel to other states where sports betting is already legal.
However, some media outlets also raised concerns about the potential downsides of sports betting, such as the risk of problem gambling and addiction. They also noted the importance of responsible gambling measures and ensuring that sports betting is conducted in a fair and transparent manner. This became especially true after several major sports betting companies were found to target college students and violate other marketing rules in the fall of 2022.
Media response following the official opening
Rather than focusing on the immediate revenues, such as what happened after the New York betting market opened, the official opening of the Ohio betting sports market was marked with controversy of who rather than how or why. The controversy stemmed from baseball legend Pete Rose placing the first bet around midnight on opening day. Pete Rose, who was an essential resource to the Cincinnati Reds for many years, was later banned from the sport due to his having gambled on the Reds whilst still their manager. As a consequence, his betting on January 1st – which incidentally was also a bet on the Reds – became somewhat of a spectacle.
Later, the media turned to the proposal of doubling the revenue tax proposed by Governor DeWine from 10% to 20%, once again winning over articles focusing on the non-gambling impact of the open betting market. As such, the media response to the Ohio betting market has been somewhat tumultuous, going from mainly positive to mainly covering controversies. It will be interesting to see how the rest of the inaugural year will be presented in the media.