Lori’s Roadhouse in West Chester applies to be sports betting venue

West Chester honky-tonk Lori's Roadhouse has applied to be the sole proprietor of Butler County's only bricks and mortar sports betting establishment. CONTRIBUTED

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West Chester honky-tonk Lori's Roadhouse has applied to be the sole proprietor of Butler County's only bricks and mortar sports betting establishment. CONTRIBUTED

The owners of Lori’s Roadhouse in West Chester Twp. are hoping to be the proprietors of Butler County’s sole bricks and mortar sports betting emporium when wagering becomes officially legal next year.

The deadline to apply for a Class B license to begin operations in January was Friday and Lori’s Roadhouse was the only establishment to apply for the license as of Monday afternoon. Greg Fisher, co-owner of the honky-tonk that opened in the Union Center Pavilion Shopping Center last year, said their attorneys filed their voluminous application with the Ohio Casino Control Commission Friday afternoon.

“The thing is you’re not guaranteed, you either win or you lose it’s one or the other, you’re not guaranteed to get it,” Fisher said. “We did everything that they asked and probably went above and beyond. The thing is we’re ready, if we’re given license as long as our host is ready we can be effective Jan. 1.”

He said they had to pay a $25,000 application fee and it will cost another $100,000 if they are awarded the license. They will hire a host to operate the gambling operation.

Jessica Franks, spokeswoman for the OCCC, told the Journal-News they received Lori’s application by the 5 p.m. on Friday and there haven’t been any other applications from Butler County. Only one bricks and mortar sports betting establishment will be allowed countywide.

The legislature passed House Bill 29 last year legalizing sports betting and the state estimated it will be a $1 billion industry in Ohio in its first year or so of operation, growing to $3.35 billion within a few years. Three license classifications were created:

  • Class A: regulates online and mobile app sports gaming providers like FanDuel and Draft Kings, a total of 25 are allowed
  • Class B: the bricks and mortar betting books like sporting venues, casinos and other venues that qualify, that will have Las Vegas-type betting windows or terminals and 40 are allowed statewide;
  • Class C: betting kiosks set up in bars and restaurants and other establishments that sell alcohol that are provided by vendors, there must be at least two but no more than 20 vendors and the number of locations are unlimited.

The legislature set a population limit of more than 100,000 people on counties that can have the gambling emporiums and only 28 counties quality. The most a county can have is five. Warren County was allotted two, but that is also home to the Miami Valley Gaming racino.

The Ohio Lottery Commission will regulate the Class C licenses and recently released a list of 787 locations that have pre-qualified to host kiosks. There are 28 throughout the county, they are: Fairfield (9), Hamilton (7), Liberty Twp. (1), Middletown (4), Monroe (2) and West Chester Twp. (3).

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The West Chester Twp. trustees passed a resolution last week supporting sports gaming for any businesses that wants to apply.

Trustee Mark Welch said he believes Lori’s Roadhouse is the “perfect venue” for a betting parlor and they fully support all new business opportunities.

“I believe a fundamental purpose of government is to provide an environment where businesses can thrive,” Welch said. “Because businesses bring jobs and those jobs which are created create family wealth. When you raise the tide you raise all boats so to speak.”

Trustee Lee Wong said he believes the township is the prime location in the county for the single Class B establishment, with its close proximity to the two major interstates, “we are really a cash cow for the county.”

Fisher was at the meeting and told the trustees they jumped at the opportunity.

“It adds a little bit of excitement, something fun to do for you, people do it anyway now and now it’s legal,” Fisher said. “It’s going to create some jobs, it’ll be open seven days a week, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. once it goes into effect Jan. 1. The kitchen and restaurant will be open all the time. I think it’s just going to be great for the community.”

He, his wife Lori and Tyler Wogenstahl opened the roadhouse — a venue with two stages, a full kitchen and bar — opened the 25,000 square foot venue last fall. He said if they are successful in getting the license they can provide even more entertainment options for patrons.

“We’ll add a bunch more TVs and we become somewhat of a sports bar,” Fisher told the Journal-News. “You know, honky-tonk, concert venue, we are the place in Butler County.”

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