Ohio Sports Betting Market Benefitting from Cincinnati Bengals’ Success

USA Legal Betting


  • The Super Bowl draws more bets than any other American sports event
  • Roughly 90% of Ohio bettors backed the Bengals to win last week against the Buffalo Bills
  • The Bengals beat the Kansas City Chiefs in last year’s AFC Championship Game

As if the Ohio sports betting market wasn’t promising enough, it is now getting a major boost from the Cincinnati Bengals.

Having opened for business less than a month ago, sportsbooks are capitalizing on the Bengals’ good fortune in the NFL playoffs. If they beat the Kansas City Chiefs this weekend, they will advance to play in their second straight Super Bowl, giving bettors another chance to support their hometown heroes.

The Super Bowl, like clockwork, is the most-bet sporting event in America. If the Bengals manage to make it that far, the returns on the Ohio market will be beyond what anyone could have hoped for two months into legal sports betting.

Getting the ball rolling

Sports bettors flocked to in-person and online sportsbooks on New Year’s Day when the market first launched. Legendary Cincinnati Reds player and manager Pete Rose submitted the state’s first bet, and from there, everything took off.

There have been a few issues along the way, which was always expected. For example, Governor Mike DeWine warned sportsbooks that they needed to rework the language used to advertise various promotions to new customers.

However, the overall verdict on the young Ohio market is a positive one. 16 sportsbooks have already launched online betting services, and overall participation has been above and beyond expectations.

According to geo-tracking company GeoComply, 11.3 million transactions were processed within the first 48 hours of the market’s launch. Cincinnati, the third-most-populous city, led the state with two million transactions, outperforming Cleveland and Columbus.

But Cincy bettors could be in for an even bigger treat if the Bengals reach the Super Bowl.

“We couldn't have asked for a better start,” said Hard Rock Casino Cincinnati President George Goldhoff. “Where can you open a sports book and the hometown team is vying for a berth in the Super Bowl, we couldn't have asked for anything more.”

Ohio already missed a major opportunity last year when the Bengals shocked the NFL and reached the Super Bowl, where they fell to the Los Angeles Rams. Sportsbooks accepted over $7.6 billion in wagers, per the American Gaming Association (AGA), none of which came from Ohio or California, the two states represented in the big game.

Reason for optimism

With the support of Cincinnati behind them, the Bengals have shifted into two-point favorites ahead of their matchup with the Chiefs this weekend. Kansas City actually opened as favorites, but Patrick Mahomes is dealing with a high-ankle sprain, and the Bengals just demolished the Buffalo Bills on the road in the snow, causing the lines to shift.

“If the Bengals win, and man, if they play like they did this past weekend, it's going to be tough to bet against them,” said AGA Senior Vice President Casey Clark. “That could be bad news for the book, so it will be really interesting to see how it goes.”

The upcoming matchup is a rematch of last year’s AFC title bout. The Chiefs got off to a quick start but sputtered in the second half and allowed the Bengals to claw a 27-24 win in overtime. Cincy is also 3-0 against the Chiefs in the Joe Burrow, most recently defeating them 27-24 in Week 13.

As close as the heavyweight bout is expected to be, a majority of Ohio bettors are likely to be behind the Bengals—that’s assuming that past trends hold.

“We absolutely have a lot of data and in [Sunday’s] game, for instance, against the Bills, nearly 90% of all Ohio fans bet on the Bengals to win," said Goldhoff. "Everyone in Ohio wants the Bengals to win and they bet that way."

Now that even more states have sports betting services than last year, the potential revenue totals for Super Bowl betting could be paradigm-shifting. Last year saw a $3.3 billion, or 78% increase, on the previous year’s betting total, so it will be interesting to see what the growth is like this year.

The winner of the AFC Championship will play either the San Francisco 49ers or Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LVII. California, as previously mentioned, does not have a legal sports betting market, but Philadelphia does.

Grant is a sports and sports betting journalist who prides himself in his up-to-the-minute reporting on the latest events in the industry. A member of Virginia Tech’s 2021 graduating class, he has quickly put together an impressive portfolio since moving to the professional world full-time. Grant’s favorite sports to cover are basketball and both types of football (American and soccer), and he is pushing written, audio, and video content. He has been employed by companies as highly regarded as Forbes and continues on a great trajectory in the industry. When he’s not on the clock, you can find Grant at the gym, looking for adventures, or hanging out with his family.