CLEVELAND (WJW) — At the stroke of midnight, Ohioans will celebrate more than a new year — they’ll ring in a new era of gambling in the state.

At 12 a.m. on Jan. 1, sports betting will begin in Ohio, allowing betters to gamble on football, basketball and other sporting events.

“I’m always told, ‘Never bet on the team that you root for because then it’s a double loss and if you lose, you lose money and your team loses, and you don’t want to go through that,'” said sports better and downtown Cleveland resident Tony Banks.

Ohio State fans gathered at the JACK Cleveland Casino downtown to watch the Ohio State Buckeyes take on No. 1 Georgia in the Peach Bowl on Saturday night, New Year’s Eve.

The game happened just hours before sports betting became legal in Ohio.

“The next time you’re able to play, you’re able to bet on them will you?” FOX 8 asked.

“Absolutely, without a doubt, I have a lot of confidence in them,” Banks replied.

At the stroke of midnight, sports betting will become legal in Ohio — whether it’s college football, pro sports, golf, tennis or most sporting events. High school and pre-recorded games are not eligible.

“It’s a very exciting night to have Ohio State playing, leading up to the kickoff and launch of sports betting here in Ohio. We can’t bet on them right now. It’s our team and we’re Ohio Gaming Corp., so to have them leading into this exciting night means a lot,” said Aleksandra Breault, director of public relations and communications for JACK Entertainment.

Ohio State football Ken Cumming noted its potential downside for some.

“I know a lot of people my age have a lot of fun with the sports betting. I know there are downsides to it. I guess some people can get too into it, but I guess they can get addicted to it and people can lose a lot of their earnings and their savings. But overall I think it’s good that people have the opportunity to come do this as a fun activity,” he said.

The first sports bet at JACK Cleveland Casino downtown was scheduled to be cast by Christine Hoyer with the Ohio Special Olympics.

“I believe that this a great, emerging partnership. I am hoping that this is just the beginning of many ways that we will be able to collaborate and bring these two organizations to support all of the athletes of Special Olympics in Ohio,” said Hoyer.

JACK Cleveland Casino will match the total bets made within the first hours of betting — up to $20,000 — to be donated to Special Olympics.


If you think you my have a gambling addiction, consider seeking help by calling the Ohio Problem Gambling Helpline at 1-800-589-9966. More information is available on the Ohio Casino Control Commission website.