Pete Rose Backs the Reds with the First Legal Ohio Sports Betting Wager

Grant Mitchell
Grant Mitchell
Baseball news


  • Pete Rose picked the Reds to win the World Series Sunday
  • Ohio legalized sports betting in 2021 but did not launch its market until last weekend
  • The Midwest betting scene has been on the rise recently

Once-exiled Cincinnati Reds legend Pete Rose placed the first bet in legal Ohio sports betting history Sunday, backing the Reds to win the World Series.

“I don’t know a d--- thing about odds. Go Reds! Go [Cincinnati] Bengals!” Rose said after submitting his bet.

The launch of the market represents a new era for Ohio, which joins a rapidly growing Midwest segment of the American sports betting community. With Rose as the poster boy, the stories already look like they were written in Hollywood.

Pete Rose: outcast turned champion

14:19:37Rose was once considered the best player in Major League Baseball when he was in his heyday. He became a player-manager in 1984 before transitioning to the dugout full-time in 1986.

The Cincinnati legend received 17 all-star nominations, three World Series trophies, an MVP, and a World Series MVP trophy during his playing career. Unfortunately, he also received a lifetime ban from the game of baseball in 1989 for betting a minimum of $10,000 on over 50 games he participated in.

Wagering on games athletes took part in or were close to was not unheard of during the 1900s, as maligned as it is now. Rose’s legacy has been majorly tarnished as a result of his ban, and he has been held out of the Hall of Fame despite having the credentials to earn a spot in baseball immortality.

It came as a surprise—and with a twist of comedic irony—that Rose was then selected to place the first bet in the new era of legal Ohio sports betting. He wasted no time accepting the offer, living up to his reputation as an audacious and fun-loving superstar.

The Reds now have a lot of legwork to fulfill Rose’s prognostication. FanDuel sportsbook has the Reds at +25000 odds to win the 2023 World Series, which is the third-worst in the league and only ahead of the Washington Nationals (+50000) and Oakland Athletics (+100000). 

Cincinnati also finished last season 62-100, which was tied with the Pittsburgh Pirates for third-worst in the league. They scored the eighth-fewest runs and allowed the fourth-most runs per game and are searching for solutions on both offense and defense.

Ohio enters a new chapter

Ohio legalized sports betting in December 2021 after Governor Mike DeWine signed off on House Bill 29. That made the Buckeye State the 33rd to pass legalization, though it took over a year to get the wheels off the ground.

Casinos, sports teams, stadiums and arenas, bars and restaurants, and local shops were allowed to apply for operator licenses under the legal framework. The Ohio Casino Control Commission (OCCC) spent the next year-plus largely vetting and determining which applicants were worthy of having their license requests granted.

The bill was passed out of necessity, in part. Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and other nearby states all offered legal and live sports betting options and were poaching many would-be Ohio bettors.

 “Ohioans are crazy about their sports—they really love their sports—and we think it’s going to be quite popular,” said Hard Rock property president George Goldhoff, as reported by Spectrum News 1. “The money that was being bet by Ohioans, whether it was in Michigan or Indiana, is all going to stay here in the state and the taxpayers are gonna benefit.”

Ohio already missed out on a major opportunity last year when the Bengals reached the Super Bowl. Joe Burrow and company are one of the top contenders to get back to the big stage this year, however, which would surely give Ohio a huge early boost in participation.

The state could also benefit from making Rose a prominent figure synonymous with Ohio sports betting, similar to how Houston high-roller Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale represents Texas sports betting.

The Reds and the rest of the MLB will be back for spring training at the end of February. It’s a shame that the 81-year-old Rose, the league’s all-time leader in hits, won’t be able to dial back the years.