YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Ohio has waited on the sidelines while 32 states have legalized sports betting. Now, Ohio is ready to get in the game.

Lawmakers have approved it, now it’s up to the governor.

Sports bars and restaurants have been waiting for sports betting to kickoff in Ohio. Coaches Burger Bar has six locations (Austintown, Calcutta, Canton, Poland, Salem, St. Clairsville) that are ready.

It kinda goes hand in hand. Burger and beer and gambling and sports bar,” said owner Patrick Howlett,

Howlett said he is glad Ohio is progressing and catching up to other states which have seen the benefits of legalized sports betting. He notices the camaraderie and excitement surrounding big games like watching Ohio State or the Super Bowl and believes that will expand with sports betting.

“I definitely think that it keeps them kinda here and it makes it more fun. I’m going down and I’m going to bet on the game, have a burger and beer and watch my game that I bet on,” he said.

Ohio lawmakers approved a bill that creates sports betting online, at casinos, stadiums and even bars.
That last wrinkle of betting at sports bars would likely be with machines like the lottery machines already there.

“I think just like having the lottery in the restaurants, having Keno, I think it keeps people there,” Howlett said. “I think you develop more regulars. I think people come and play in certain places, and that’s what they do.

Ohio has been penalized by not having sports betting. Players have just crossed the border and placed bets in Pennsylvania. Ohio lawmakers took three years to make sports betting legal.

“I support having sports betting in the state of Ohio. Its time has come,” Ohio Governor Mike DeWine said.

Lawmakers want sports betting to be up and running next year in the state. They set a deadline of January 1, 2023, for it to start.