JACK is working on sports betting at Cleveland Casino, Thistledown Racino, as well as a mobile app in Ohio for its sports gambling business

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CLEVELAND, Ohio — With legal sportsbooks on the way, JACK Entertainment plans to build two sportsbooks so Clevelanders can get in on the action and a new app that could be used anywhere in Ohio.

The deadline for state regulators to open live sports betting is January 1, 2023, but plans are well underway and a free-to-play app could appear sooner rather than later.

“We’re just as excited as our customers are to bring it live,” said Adam Suliman, vice president of sports and digital games at JACK Entertainment.

Ohio lawmakers passed legal sports gambling in December after three years of debate. Under the rules, Ohioans can bet at retail sportsbooks, online or through apps, and at kiosks in bars with certain liquor licenses, but not until all rules and licenses are in place.

Suliman and others don’t expect things to go live before the 2023 deadline. Jessica Franks, spokeswoman for the Ohio Casino Control Commissionsaid it could take six months to create the rules that need to be done before applications can be accepted.

“We’re going to need the rest of this year to get everything done,” Franks said.

JACK Entertainment, which owns JACK Cleveland Casino and JACK Thistledown Racino in North Randall, plans to offer betting at both locations as well as online and mobile.

Suliman said both locations will have Las Vegas-style sportsbooks with video walls, comfy lounge chairs and all the associated amenities.

While it won’t be as big as the Las Vegas Supersports, JACK is trying to offer the same experience, Suliman said.

“We’re in the process of designing these, and we’ll be banging hammers pretty soon,” Suliman said.

JACK is also planning a website and app under the betJACK banner. While it will offer betting on a variety of sports — even things like ping-pong — Suliman says JACK plans to focus heavily on Cleveland sports.

As more and more data becomes available, more bets need to be placed before and during games.

“The difference between sports betting today and 10 years ago is quite striking,” Suliman said. “We are able to offer near-to-the-minute real-time betting.”

A popular bet was parlay bets in the same game, where someone can place multiple bets on a game – an example being bets on how a handful of Cleveland Browns players will perform.

Bettors will have time to study. JACK will soon be launching a free-to-play version of its sports betting app.

He said they view it as a type of training camp where people can get up to speed in a risk-free environment. The same bets are available betjack.com.

The site already has articles and information on Ohio sports teams and sports betting.

There are 11 casinos and racinos in Ohio, with casinos offering table games and slots and racinos offering only slots, along with horse racing.

The Sports Gambling Act creates these types of licenses. Class A used for mobile and online betting operations. Class B, used for brick-and-mortar betting shops such as sportsbooks, and Class C, used for betting kiosks in bars with a specific liquor permit.

Ohio allows 25 Class A licenses and 40 Class B licenses. Franks said Ohio’s 11 casinos and racinos and eight Ohio sports teams would receive preference for those licenses. The PGA at locations in Akron and Dublin and NASCAR at Mid-Ohio Speedway near Mansfield are also eligible.

JACK plans to apply for a license when applications are open, said JACK spokeswoman Aleksandra Breault.

Suliman said sports betting is expected to reach $500 million in revenue across Ohio as the industry matures. Not a small amount of money, but small compared to the $2.31 billion in gaming revenue generated by Ohio’s casinos and racinos in 2021.

And it will take anywhere from 2.5 to 5 years for it to hit the $500 million mark, Suliman said.

Although there will be a lot of mobile betting, Suliman believes that sports betting will also become an experience that JACK can provide, especially in times like March Madness or playoffs in popular sports.

“There’s something special about a fourth-quarter drive at a sportsbook because half the people want it to end in a touchdown and the other half want it to end in an interception,” Suliman said.

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