Details of The Deal
Sports betting in Ohio is not yet a reality, however the Cleveland Browns and Bally’s Interactive have announced a partnership that makes Bally’s the official gaming partner of the Browns, among other things.
Specific details of the partnership have not yet been determined but are expected to come soon. They did announce that their main focus is the fans, and the new partnership is paving the way for “a variety of fan engagement activations, including unique digital content and an engaging free-to-play predictor game, which will give registered users the opportunity to earn special Browns-themed non-cash promotional prizes.” Alongside the plethora of fan-engagement opportunities will be the launch of Bally’s mobile sports betting app for Browns fans in Ohio and free-to-play gaming opportunities.
“Pending appropriate licensing and regulatory approvals, the collaboration will be highlighted by a branded lounge at FirstEnergy Stadium,” Bally announced in a press release. They are currently still identifying possible locations for the Bally-themed lounge.
Push For Partnerships
The Browns are joining fellow Ohio team, Cleveland Cavaliers in partnering with a sports betting operator as Cleveland did so earlier this year with Caesars Entertainment. Some of the other notable teams that Bally’s has partnered with recently include WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury and NHL’s Nashville Predators.
Bally’s is not alone; in fact, several professional teams have made the leap to partner with commercial operators following the lifted ban on the activity in 2018. FanDuel recently partnered with the New York Yankees, Caesars Entertainment with the New York Mets and Michigan State Athletics, and dozens more to follow. Sports betting is now legal in over thirty states and lawmakers and sports fans are taking advantage of every opportunity to get sports betting opportunities to the public.
The Outlook in Ohio
This is all fine and well, but first sports betting has to launch in the state. The Ohio Casino Control Commission is currently sorting out the rules and regulations that will go into effect when the market is officially launched. Right now, Ohio sports betting is legal per Governor Mike DeWine’s signature on the bill in December, but not yet operational. Lawmakers have until January 1, 2023 to launch the market but it is expected to happen before then. With a hard deadline of Jan. 1, Ohio sports fans will be able to bet on the Browns and the Cincinnati Bengals in the playoffs at least. Browns fans will be chomping at the bit to do so with a new quarterback at the helm, as Deshaun Watson is now a Cleveland Brown.
Currently, Bally’s operates casinos in 13 states and all types of gaming in 18 states, and Ohio is not one of them. The 11 casinos and racinos in Ohio can be awarded up to three skins per the legislation and several large operators such as Caesars Entertainment, MGM Resorts International, and Penn National Gaming all already have land-based casino operations in Ohio, making the market somewhat harder to penetrate for Bally’s. The market will be competitive but Bally’s has a chance to stay relevant with this Browns partnership.