When the Ohio Casino Control Commission released the names of the latest sports betting applicants that had submitted their paperwork by Friday, many familiar and expected names were on the list. Several national sports betting operators and sports teams were on there.
Phantom Fireworks was at the bottom of the list of entities that wanted to host a retail sportsbook. The home base of the pyrotechnic retailer is Mahoning County, and they want to offer a sportsbook there.
Why is a company that sells mortar shells interested in opening a brick-and-mortar sportsbook? William Weimer, the vice president and general counsel of Phantom Fireworks, told Casino.org that the company believes it is a way to pay back the city of Youngstown.
When Bruce Zoldan founded the company, fireworks were not a popular business in Ohio. Weimer said that the company, which has grown to become a leading national retailer with more than 75 permanent stores, was embraced by the city of Youngstown, which is just minutes from the Pennsylvania state line.
Bruce has tried his best to give back to the community that supported him, and he believes that this gaming license will benefit the city. It is possible that it is a profit maker. Hopefully, it will, but he is not looking at it from that point of view.
Up to 40 retail sportsbooks will be allowed in Ohio, and those facilities will be located in the state’s largest counties. Up to two retail sportsbooks could be approved for Mahoning County based on its population. Hollywood gaming is located in the county, as well as a Penn National gaming thoroughbred track. It would partner with Penn’s Barstool Sportsbook for its type B license.
The Sportsbook site for the Youngstown Arena
The Covelli Centre is a multi-purpose arena that seats up to 7,000 people depending on the event and is owned by the city of Youngstown.
Weimer said that it will be an additional draw for people to come to the downtown area.
The Phantoms are a team that plays in the top-tier junior-level United States Hockey League and is co-owned by Zoldan. The team has a logo that is based on the Phantom Fireworks.
Hockey players between the ages of 16 and 21 are called junior hockey players. Many players who play in the league go on to play at the college level, and some even make it to the professional level.
Responsible gaming advocates say exposing teenagers and younger children to sports betting makes them more prone to developing problem gambling issues.
Weimer said that Phantom Fireworks’ desire to get a sports betting license has nothing to do with the hockey team. He said that there was no intent to lobby the state to allow betting on junior hockey.
There is no rubber stamp from the OCCC
The commissioner was given a sports betting update by the executive director at the meeting.
The deadline for entities to apply for a type A, type B, or type C license was Friday and if they are approved, they will be able to start on Ohio’s universal start date of January 1st. They were supposed to file by the Friday deadline.
The application process for the state’s bars to apply to host kiosks and for Type A proprietors seeking to partner with a second sports betting app started last Friday.
The OCCC won’t be a “rubber stamp” organization as it reviews applications, according to the commissioner.
The reputation and financial integrity of the applicants, their history of any criminal, civil, or bankruptcy proceedings, and the economic development impact of the proposed sportsbook are some of the criteria the commission staff must consider when reviewing applications.
Preference for licenses does not guarantee acceptance, as the state’s major professional sports teams and its licensed casinos and racinos will receive preference for licenses.
Phantom Fireworks, a pyrotechnic retailer based in US’ Youngstown, has applied for a sports betting licence in the state of Ohio. “Bruce Zoldan has tried his best to give back to the community that supported him all along from the beginning,” Phantom Fireworks’ Vice President William Weimer said. “Hopefully, it will, but he’s not looking at it initially from that point of view,” Weimer added.