CLEVELAND, Ohio — It was an exhilarating day for sports fans and casinos alike Sunday in the Cleveland area and around the state as people took advantage of Ohio’s long-awaited first day of legal sports betting.
Parking lots at MGM Northfield Park and Jack Casino in downtown Cleveland were packed. Fans came to watch their favorite NFL teams, place some bets, and, hopefully, win a lot.
“We’ve been going to Vegas for years and years,” said Dan Macron of Kent, who was betting at MGM Northfield Park with friend John Reynolds of Macedonia. “This place has the most Vegas-like feel. There’s so many choices and everyone is offering different things, free money here — free this, free that.”
Casinos sought to draw on a new demographic of gamblers and make Sunday afternoon football a bit more engaging.
“We already have such fervent sports fans in Cleveland,” said one spokesperson for the Jack. “This is just another way to get them to be part of the game.”
It was a sentiment echoed by Scott Lokke, Senior VP and General Manager at Jack. ”Gone are the days of you bet on wins and losses,” Lokke said. “There all these in-game bets now while the game is going on and it’s completely changed the industry.”
The new betting strategies make it much more fun, engaging and accessible to a wider audience, Lokke said. “You can bet win-loss, and you just check the score later. But you bet all these in-game activities, catches and runs or whatever it might be, and the fan engagement increases significantly. They are constantly in tune,” he said.
Related: Bets can be placed in person and online at sportsbooks, including DraftKings Ohio Sportsbook, BetMGM Ohio, Fan Duel Ohio, Barstool Ohio, Caesars Ohio, Bet365, PointsBet and Tipico.
Sports betting became officially legal starting at 12:01 a.m. New Year’s Day, and it’s safe to say the casinos made some bets of their own; namely if you build a swank, comfortable sportsbook to watch games, eat, drink and gamble, the fans will show up.
And show up they did. Both MGM Northfield Park and Jack Casino downtown say they had a packed house of sports revelers ready to place their bets right after the ball dropped — even if their spirits were temporarily deflated by Ohio State’s loss to Georgia in the Peach Bowl moments …….