COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Will Ohio’s legal sports gaming program be ready for its scheduled January launch?
Don’t bet on it.
Sources said the Ohio Lottery Commission’s proposed rules are getting so much pushback from businesses and potential sports betting outlets that they might have to be rewritten.
The problem is the cash-out rules.
The rules require the sports gaming sites to be ready to pay out, in cash, to gambling winners as soon as the sporting event ends.
For a small business on a big sporting event night, that could mean having tens of thousands of dollars in cash on hand.
The Ohio branch of the National Federation of Independent Business said that’s financially impossible for some small business owners, and it also sets sports betting operators up as targets for robberies.
New numbers show more than 1,000 Ohio businesses are interested in being licensed sports betting establishments.
“It shows that they know their customers are demanding that product and they want to be able to deliver that,” said Chris Ferruso with the National Federation of Independent Business. “I’m fearful that a lot of our members, our small businesses, are going to say, after they understand the rules, ‘This is too much of a risk for me to take on. This is too much of a liability for me to take on.’”
The Ohio Grocers Association is also objecting to the rule that would require sports bettors to cash in their winning tickets at the place of purchase, cutting out the 600 Ohio grocery stores that are already Ohio lottery outlets.
A request for comment from the lottery commission has yet to be returned.