FAIRFIELD, Ohio — Fairfield’s largest zip code ranks 37th in Ohio with 43,000 residents, according to Demographics.com.
But it ranks first in the number of bars and restaurants pre-authorized by the Ohio Lottery Commission to host sports-betting kiosks.
“It doesn’t surprise me because I see the gambling that goes on just in this local area,” said Julie Sizemore, owner of the Cobblestone Tavern on Dixie Highway. “People will bet on anything with sports.”
The lottery’s list of 787 pre-authorized sports-betting establishments is a work in progress, showing the locations that meet minimum standards for hosting two betting machines. Lottery officials expect about 2,500 to join the list eventually. But the July 1 update shows how the list will look in neighborhoods.
Fairfield’s largest zip code, 45014, has 10 locations within a 15-minute drive of each other. In addition to Cobblestone Tavern, the 45014 list includes Northwest Lanes bowling alley, Par’s Place on Winton Road and Berd’s Grill & Bar on Wessel Drive.
“There’s a lot of people that like to go out and have a good time,” said Berd’s owner, Matt Berding. “You know, might be because there’s a lot of Catholics. Catholics like to drink, gamble. Lotta neighborhood bars.”
Other high-ranking zip codes on the state list include Hilliard, Parma and Austintown, all with nine locations. Closer to home, White Oak, Westwood and Delhi Township, each have six locations.
“It’s all entertainment,” said Bertch Jackson, one of Berd’s regulars who looks forward to placing kiosk bets. “I don’t want to spend my retirement on gambling but, yeah, it’d be fun.”
Berding and Sizemore said they see kiosks as a way to boost revenue, earning a percentage of each bet while encouraging patrons to stay in their seats longer.
“It gives the people in here something else to do,” Sizemore said. “Being a bar with 54 flat screen televisions and the NFL ticket, there’s obviously gambling going on. So, to have the access to do it here will bring more revenue.”
Kiosks are just one of the ways Ohio will launch sports betting on January 1, 2023. Phone-betting apps and retail sportsbooks in casinos and stadiums and will also be licensed to take bets in Ohio, under license application process that began June 15.
To qualify for kiosks, bars and restaurants must secure a $1,000 host license from the Ohio Casino Control Commission. They also have to be a lottery retailer in good standing and hold a D-1, D-2 or D-5 liquor permit. And they’ll have to partner with a company that operates the machines, under a Type C proprietor’s license, also issued by the commission.
So far, only one company has applied for a proprietor’s license: Ely’s Gameboard Technologies LLC is part of a Nasdaq-traded company that partnered with Dayton’s Wright Bet Ventures LLC to form a local management company to pursue its Ohio license.
Sizemore said she was impressed by sales agents from Wright Bet Ventures, who clearly explained the state’s licensing process and responded quickly to her questions. But she would like more operators from which to choose. Ohio is offering up to 20 proprietor’s licenses. It’s no clear whether others will join Ely’s before the application window closes July 15.
In the meantime, is hoping her revenue from sports betting matches the nearly $1 million per year she gets from the lottery’s keno offering.
“My revenue for keno on some weeks is as high as my sales for beer, liquor, wine, which is crazy,” she said.