Legal gambling in Ohio was limited to pari-mutuel horse racing, lottery games, and bingo until relatively recently. These were legalized in 1933, 1974, and 1975 and allowed those in the state to partake in some form of gambling while there were heavy restrictions against casino gaming and sports betting.
When it comes to online gambling, the law isn’t exactly clear-cut. Although it’s technically illegal to operate an online gambling venture in the state, partaking in online gambling isn’t actually against the law. As a result, many Ohio gamblers enjoy playing at off-shore online casinos and placing bets at off-shore sportsbooks.
There’s no regulated online gambling market in Ohio just yet, but that doesn’t mean you can’t gamble online. Most Ohio gamblers use sweepstake casinos or off-shore betting sites. These sites are still safe to use and offer a complete online gambling experience if they’re licensed. It’s unclear whether legal online gambling in Ohio will happen anytime soon. However, with a growing number of states choosing to regulate online gambling, it may not be far away.
Land-Based Gambling in Ohio
As a result of the state’s gambling restrictions,Ohio gamblers had to travel out of state to have fun at casinos for many years. When lawmakers and voters saw that Ohio gamblers were spending their money in Indiana, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia, lawmakers and voters approved the construction of Vegas-style casinos in 2009.
Under the supervision of the Ohio Lottery, the state has four typical Vegas-style casinos that are allowed to offer slots and table games and seven racinos licensed to operate Video Lottery Terminals. These VLTs are comparable to slots in terms of functionality, but they are managed more centrally.
The Ohio horse racing industry has seen its ups and downs, but things have settled down since local racetracks were allowed to install video lottery terminals to generate revenue. There were seven racinos and one dedicated racetrack in Ohio as of early 2019. Both live and off-track betting is available at these locations. Residents of Ohio can also bet on horse races over the internet with TwinSpires and TVG.
Are There Plans for Legal Online Gambling in Ohio?
For a long time, Ohioans have been looking forward to sports betting. It feels like it’s only a matter of time before the betting measure is passed, with support from all sides of the State Legislature. However, things haven’t been simple, and there have been some roadblocks along the way.
While there is a bill in the works that easily passed the State House, the State Senate has met multiple times to discuss the legalization bill but has yet to act. The bill was heard five times in 2020, and nothing appears to have been accomplished each time.
Back in the summer of 2020, according to Sen. Ecklund, some aspects of the bill still needed to be changed in order for it to pass. However, no one could have predicted such a long delay. As Ohio sought to compete with its neighboring state, the end of 2020 was the goal for all involved. This has now passed, and it’s unclear when progress will be made in bringing online sports betting to the state.