COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – It’s hard to escape sports betting commercials and advertising, but it’s still nearly impossible to walk into a business in Columbus and place a wager since gambling on sports went live on Jan. 1.
The majority of bets are predicted to be made online. Hundreds of small businesses across the state are trying to get their slice of the pie by hosting kiosks in their businesses, but most in Columbus aren’t even activated.
“It’s not us. I mean, we’re ready. We’re excited about it,” said Ed Gaughan, owner of The O on Lane, a brick oven pizza restaurant right on the north side of Ohio State University’s campus. He got his kiosk installed Wednesday by Gold Rush Gaming, based out of Illinois. But while the TV above the kiosk is a constant scroll of the latest betting odds for sports all over the world, the screen on the kiosk itself reads ‘Out of Service.’
When asked why it’s not live yet, Gaughan said, “We haven’t got an answer on that. I mean, we asked that question this morning to a couple people from the company and some others who have it. They don’t have an answer. They don’t have an answer why.”
At Parlay Sporting Club & Kitchen, they have built their business around gaming.
“We have over a hundred TVs hanging. We have games. We have private event space, all built around and to house and feed off of sports gaming and gambling and the entertainment that goes along with watching the game,” said partner Heath Pontious.
They still don’t have a single kiosk in their building. Pontious explained there is a way for bettors to place wagers, but it’s cumbersome and time-consuming.
“A bettor had to build in on application that they had to download onto their phone. Then they would have to hand us their phone and we had to scan a barcode. Then followed by scanning their ID to validate their age credentials. On top of that, then we have to take in the cash and make sure that’s allocated properly as well,” he said.
“We’re waiting on our equipment. Patiently,” Pontious said.
They are far from alone.
“I mean if you take the casino for example. You can’t walk into the casino. Their sportsbooks not ready,” he added.
The issue is multi-faceted and a bit complicated.
“Some of those partners that the state has awarded proprietor license to are challenged with delays from the actual manufacturer of the actual devices,” Pontious said.
But preferential treatment from the state is another reason. Professional sports teams, casinos, racinos, and the major mobile app developers all got the first crack at it.
“The frustration comes from the public not being well informed about what certain bars and restaurants and certain license holders are going through,” said Pontious.
At both establishments, they said the waiting game could last “who knows” how long.
“Keep playing the waiting game. It’s all we can do. Hopefully by Feb. 1,” Pontious said.