Last week, Northern Ohio Golf examined how the professional tours drive the action in golf betting. The vast majority of bets are made on the four major golf championships: the Masters, the PGA Championship, the U.S. Open, and the Open Championship.
Biannually, the international pro golf team events like Ryder Cup, President’s Cup and Solheim Cup also get significant action with all of the major sports books. Add some national pride to a competition and the interest seems to grow.
After that, it’s the weekly events of the PGA Tour driving the most betting engagement, followed by the tournaments of the European Tour. The PGA Tour Champions and the LPGA Tour get a small bit of traction, but at a scale of wagering that is far less.
A gambler can even bet on ‘The Match’, that nearly unwatchable made-for-TV golf that pit teams of pros and famous ams (or sometimes just pros) against each other to fill up some prime broadcast time and sell a whole bundle of commercials and sponsorships.
In the state of Ohio, the Ohio Senate passed a sports betting bill in June of 2021 detailing how and when Ohio-based sports books could open up for full wagering. The issue had been examined by legislative committees for a handful of years, and there are other bills currently under consideration to make full online sports betting legal for Ohioans. Passage may come in the next few weeks as the Ohio General Assembly reconvenes for the Fall, with the hope that online sports betting could begin in Ohio sometime in the spring of 2022.
The neighboring states of Indiana, Michigan and Pennsylvania already all have this online sports betting option legalized, so Ohio is late to the party and losing out on the vast tax revenues. Politicians love their tax revenues, so expect passage sooner rather than later.
But even without Ohio-based casinos currently in on the action, residents of Ohio are still allowed to participate in Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) through a number of online sportsbooks based in other locations. A bill passed the Ohio legislature in December of 2017 allowed such betting.
The difference between DFS and standard sports gambling is that picking a “win” isn’t based on the direct win/loss result of the event. For example, Ohioans who are betting on golf currently can’t pick who will win this week’s PGA Tour event, by law. But according to the DFS laws, they can pick a team of players against the rest of the field, or they can pick individual players against each other, or any number of other “prop bets”.
It’s a weird difference. So why the Ohio legislature is still dragging its feet on simply making online sports betting legal is hard to fathom. The biggest hang-ups seem to be which government agency gets to run the show, and what type of business can hold a license. It’s a battle of the lobbyists.
Amateur sports like college football and college basketball are big money-makers for all of the national sports books and DFSs. But so far, that high-dollar level of action has not transferred down to amateur or college golf events. Golf is still a niche sport, after all.
Even less available is the ability to bet on state professional golf championships, and lesser still on regional amateur golf tournaments. But a number of sports books allow its bettors to suggest contests for wagering. If a sports book agrees to the suggestion, it will set lines to allow wagering.
Thus, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that if and when the State of Ohio legalizes sports betting this Fall, that a gambler could potentially call up a newly-opened sports book and ask them for odds on the 2022 Ohio Open. Or perhaps even the 2022 Cleveland Am, Summit County Am or Stark County Am. Now that would be crazy. And weirdly fun.