Though it was a small class of states that launched sports betting in 2023, Ohio proved to be a runaway winner for Rookie of the Year.

The Ohio Casino Control Commission reported handle totaling more than $829.9 million for December on Wednesday as the Buckeye State narrowly missed eclipsing Pennsylvania for fifth nationally in 2023 handle during its first 12 months of legal betting.

Including kiosks overseen by the state lottery, total Ohio sports betting handle was slightly above $831.1 million for the final month of 2023. That total was down nearly 4% from November. Overall, Ohioans wagered more than $7.67 billion in the first year sports betting was legal in the Buckeye State with $7.44 billion of that coming via mobile betting apps. The overall Ohio handle finished within $9.5 million of the Keystone State, which needed its top three all-time handles in the final three months of 2023 to fend off the upstart.

Sportsbook operators had another good month, crafting a 10.5% hold to claim close to $87.4 million in adjusted gross revenue. It was the 10th time the house posted a 10% win rate or better in 2023 as the statewide adjusted revenue from retail venues, mobile betting apps, and kiosks totaled more than $938.3 million.

The state collected close to $17.5 million in tax receipts for December, lifting the full first-year total to more than $136.8 million. More than $79.2 million of that amount came after Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine doubled the tax rate to 20% effective July 1.

ESPN BET firms up No. 3 spot for handle

After an aggressive entrance into the Buckeye State as part of its coordinated national launch in mid-November, ESPN BET‘s challenge for December was maintaining its No. 3 status in Ohio when it came to handle. In that sense, it was mission accomplished as the rebranded PENN Entertainment sportsbook had a 2.8% increase in handle from November to close to $72.9 million.

ESPN BET’s mobile market share ticked higher from 8.4% in November to just shy of 9% for December. More importantly, it was able to increase market share while substantially cutting back on promotional offers and bonuses. Though ESPN BET did lead all mobile operators with more than $11.3 million worth of credits, that was down 61% from the $29 million-plus lavished on the betting public in November.

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In terms of sportsbook wins and losses, it was another solid month as ESPN BET had an 11.3% win rate to claim more than $8.2 million in revenue. More than half of PENN’s nearly $39 million in sportsbook revenue in 2023 came in the final two months of the year.

FanDuel and DraftKings remained 1-2 as they essentially lapped the field. The pair accounted for more than two-thirds of the $809.7 million worth of mobile wagers placed in December, with FanDuel taking top honors for the year at more than $2.72 billion and DraftKings following at $2.51 billion.

FanDuel emphatically bounced back from its lone month with a sub-10% hold, claiming a win rate just shy of 13% to collect more than $37.4 million in revenue for December. It finished just over $7.7 million shy of $400 million in winnings while posting a 14.4% hold.

DraftKings, meanwhile, had its first back-to-back months with a sub-10% hold, but the 9.7% one for December still provided over $25.4 million in revenue. It finished 2023 with an 11.1% win rate in Ohio, amassing $278.1 million in winnings.

Though the two mobile juggernauts cut back on their promotional spend compared to November, they had an eye-watering outlay of $447 million to Buckeye State bettors between them. FanDuel’s spend of close to $261 million was more than 37% of the staggering $698.4 million in credits and bonuses awarded to bettors throughout 2023.

Bet365 edged out BetMGM for the fourth spot in handle for December by less than $1 million as the England-based mobile sportsbook cleared $450 million handle for the year. It also aggressively spent to attract business — bet365 put forth close to $78 million in credits and bonuses into the betting ecosphere compared to the $60.3 million in revenue won thanks to a 13.4% hold.

BetMGM did finish 2023 in Ohio with more than one-half billion handle at $513.3 million, but also came out ahead in terms of revenue versus promotional spend. It totaled $69.4 million in winnings to outpace its spend by more than $9.7 million.

Caesars Sportsbook ($37.9 million) and Fanatics Sportsbook ($19.1 million) rounded out the group of seven mobile operators with eight-figure handles in December. Caesars’ handle was off 3.5% compared to November, but revenue bounced 34.6% higher despite a second straight sub-5% hold at 4.7%

Fanatics Sportsbook had a 25.1% plunge in handle compared to November. The silver lining, though, is its revenue also surged — up 38.8% to nearly $1.6 million as its 8.2% hold was up nearly 3.8 percentage points.

A clean sweep by retail sportsbooks

All 16 retail sportsbooks among casinos, racinos, arenas, and stadiums came out winners in December. Those venues combined for nearly $2.9 million in revenue against $20.2 million in handle for a robust 14.3% hold.

The quartet of PENN Entertainment venues located in Columbus, Dayton, Mahoning Valley, and Toledo combined for more than $1.2 million of those winnings, with Hollywood Columbus pacing all brick-and-mortar sportsbooks with $504,128 in revenue and Hollywood Gaming at Mahoning Valley placing third with $338,705.

Hard Rock Cincinnati was runner-up in between the pair at $407,208, while JACK Cleveland ($288,828) and MGM Northfield ($259,866) were the other locations to clear one-quarter of a million dollars. Retail sportsbook revenue, excluding kiosks, for the year totaled close to $24.7 million as the hold for in-person bets was 12.3% against $198.8 million worth of wagers.

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