Ohio Casino Commission Director Frustrated By Calls From Sports Betting Applicants

Posted on: October 5, 2022, 03:30h. 

Last updated on: October 5, 2022, 04:53h.

At the beginning of Wednesday’s Ohio Casino Control Commission (OCCC) meeting, Executive Director Matt Schuler brought up a memory of a trip he took with his children. He compared it to the state’s ongoing vetting process of applicants for sports betting licenses.

Ohio Casino Control Commission
Members of the Ohio Casino Control Commission listen to a presentation during Wednesday’s meeting in Columbus. During the meeting, OCCC Executive Director Matt Schuler vented some frustrations regarding how applicants were hounding staff about paperwork issues and the timing of approvals. (Image: OCCC)

Suffice it to say it has not been a vacation, especially for OCCC staff members.

For a couple of minutes, Schuler took up for his licensing staffers, who he said have been slammed by repeated calls from applicants asking questions about paperwork.

They seem to believe that their application and their circumstances are more important than every other applicant that we have, and that our licensing team can snap a finger and suddenly all reports will come into existence at the very same time,” he said.

The constant calling takes its toll, as staff members have to do research and respond to the inquiries about 16 hours a day, he said. It’s taking up the time that staff members should be working on processing the applications, and it’s taking them away from their other responsibilities within the regulatory agency.

Wednesday is the deadline for companies to submit key employee applications and holding company forms to the OCCC in order for them to be approved to launch on the Jan. 1 universal start date.

The commission has made that deadline known repeatedly in several messages to applicants and at numerous meetings it’s held regarding the sports betting process.

Other Calls Draw Ire, Too

And then there are the calls about getting on the agenda, which he likened to his kids asking in the car if they were there yet.

On Wednesday, an exasperated Schuler told the commissioners that he’s had enough. He did not name names, but he made it clear that the time for such calls was over.

They’re the cause of their own problem,” he said. “So, there’s an American proverb that says the squeaky wheel gets the oil. At the commission, we replace squeaky wheels. I’d like, instead of looking at that proverb, for our applicants to think about Newton’s third law – For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

“So, my advice to the licensing division is every time an applicant calls with a ‘When are we going to be on the agenda?’ question, to move them to the bottom of the pile. Or, better yet, and I hope (staff) will take me up on this, instead of answering your question, I want them to forward it to myself. So I can have a nice good conversation about professional courtesy, about respect for people, respect for the process, and the genuine benefits of not acting like petulant children.”

First Sportsbooks Approved in Ohio

At Wednesday’s meeting, the OCCC gave conditional approval to the first batch of mobile management service providers (MMSP) and management service providers (MSP). Those will partner with the proprietors and operate the online sports betting apps and brick-and-mortar sportsbooks.

PointsBet, which will be the mobile provider for Hollywood Gaming at Mahoning Valley, Caesars Sportsbook, which is partnering with Scioto Downs, Betfred, which is the Cincinnati Bengals online partner, bet365, which is working with the Cleveland Guardians, and SuperBook, which is paired with MLS franchise FC Cincinnati, were all conditionally approved as MMSPs on Wednesday.

There are still 20 MMSP applicants that await approval.

On the retail side, the OCCC approved betJACK, which plans to operate a sportsbook at JACK Thistledown Racino, Caesars, which seeks to open brick-and-mortar venues with Scioto Downs and the Cleveland Cavaliers, and the Superbook, which also plans a retail outlet in partnership with FC Cincinnati.

An updated list from the commission early Wednesday afternoon showed that PointsBet has since withdrawn its application to operate a retail sportsbook. It initially sought to partner with Harry Buffalo, a Cleveland bar.

The commission, according to the state’s eLicense portal, has also conditionally approved 847 Ohio Lottery locations to host sports betting kiosks at their establishments.

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Source: casino.org

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