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Ohioans placed more than a billion dollars in bets in the first month of legal sports gambling

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Daniel Konik
Statehouse News Bureau
Sportsbook mobile app

Ohioans placed more than a billion dollars in wagers during the first month sports betting was allowed in Ohio.

The Ohio Casino Control Commission reported 16 online operators brought in $205 million in revenue. The state's 14 in-person, retail sportsbooks reported $3.2 million in revenue.

Overall, Ohio's four casinos reported a little over $86 million in total revenue for January.

But the commission's Director of Communications Jessica Franks cautioned the January numbers are unique for several reasons.

"It marked Ohio's entry into the market. And as a part of that, obviously there were a lot of advertisements and promotions and bonuses that operators were giving out in order to grab market share. This is a very common occurrence with other jurisdictions when they enter into the sports gaming world," Frank said.

Frank said it's also important to remember what was happening in the sports world in January. The Cincinnati Bengals made it into the playoffs and nearly made it into the Super Bowl. But that's not all.

"The big ticket items like the college football playoffs, NFL don't necessarily have all of those things happening or similar things happening every month and so I would just caution folks from trying to use this single set of numbers to sort of extrapolate what the rest of the year is going to look like," Franks said.

March Madness is coming up soon so that might have an impact on wagers during that month as well.

Early in January, it appeared as if sports gambling might be off to a rough startwith some companies as a handful of them were facing fines and penalties for violations involving false or unclear ads or for marketing to minors. Ohio law does not allow anyone under 21 years old to place a sports bet. At that time, Gov. Mike DeWine put those companies on notice.

"The companies that are doing the massive advertising need to be aware that they are being looked at very closely by the governor and the Casino Control Commission in regard to statements that they are making," DeWine said.

Franks said the commission has seen "marked improvement" since that time.

"But we do continue to monitor advertisements, promotions and all of those things to make sure all of the operators are following the law and following the rules and if we continue to see infractions, we will take administrative action when necessary," Franks said.

One of the rules gambling companies must follow is to make sure customers are aware of where to go if they develop a problem with gambling. There's a state hotline people can call at 1(800) 589-9966 or the national hotline at 1-800-GAMBLER. That national hotline will route Ohioans back to state resources. Additional resources can also be found online at the website below.

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