Ohio offers two distinct types of casino experiences through its 11 possible destinations. A land-based resort experience and racetrack casino (see Racino) encapsulate the different experiences gambling seekers may find within Ohio. While common in New York and several other states, there are no Indian casinos located within Ohio’s borders, however.
Ohio casinos first entered the market with legislature passed in November of 2009. The Horseshoe Casino located in Cleveland, Ohio was the first casino to open its doors and accept the first bet in Ohio on May 14, 2012. Prior to issue 3 being passed, Sweepstake lotteries were the most common form of gambling entertainment permitted in Ohio. Sweepstake lotteries have since been made illegal and have closed.
Ohio Online Casinos
Ohio gambling laws are very liberal. Individual participants of unlicensed games can’t be prosecuted if their unlawful gambling activities can’t be considered a major source of income – and if that wasn’t enough, it’s debatable whether online play can be considered unlawful due to the fact that the local regulations never refer specifically to internet games.
As you’d expect, the local law enforcement officials simply aren’t interested in catching offshore sites’ customers, which is why Ohio courts have never had a chance to settle an iGaming-related case and set a legal precedent that’d allow for a clear interpretation of the relevant laws.
Ohio residents have dozens of iGaming sites to choose from, but only a handful of them are really worth your attention. If you want to avoid wasting your time on mediocre and underwhelming sites, you should follow some basic guidelines before you commit your hard earned cash.
If you’re a poker player, finding a high-traffic site is absolutely crucial, as the size of the player pool influences the quality of cash games and the tournament prizes. If you’re a punter, you should always try to compare sites that you’ve come upon in terms of prices and betting options.
Furthermore, you shouldn’t be shy about opening an account with more than one site, as this will allow you to take advantage of the best odds available for the games that you want to wager on. Finally, if you’re interested in casino games, you should focus on the sites that excel in terms of game selection and bonuses.
Belterra Park Gaming and Entertainment Center
Hard Rock Rocksino Northfield Park
Hollywood Casino Columbus
Hollywood Casino Toledo
Hollywood Gaming at Dayton Raceway
Hollywood Gaming at Mahoning Valley Race Course
Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati
Horseshoe Casino Cleveland
Miami Valley Gaming
Scioto Downs Racino
Gambling in Ohio
Ohio casinos are all tribal-owned and tend to focus predominantly on slots. The state is quite famous for its racinos and racetrack facilities, such as Belterra Park, Thistledown Racino or Hollywood Gaming. Pari-mutuel betting is obviously allowed and the state allows some forms of charitable gambling.
Ohio has a state-run lottery. It’s worth pointing out that even though the local land-based gambling industry is fairly large, the local lawmakers don’t seem to be interested in passing any iGaming-friendly legislation. As a result, local online gambling enthusiasts are essentially stuck with offshore iGaming platforms.
Ohio’s middle-of-the-road stance on gambling started to change in 2009 when voters approved Ohio Issue 3, a constitutional amendment allowing the operation of casinos. There are currently four cities within Ohio where organizations can legally own and operate casinos, each of which imposes a different tax rate:
- Columbus, 2.5% tax rate on all players.
- Toledo, 2.25% tax rate on all players with an exemption of up to $2,500 for those filing a Toledo City tax return.
- Cleveland, 2% tax rate for residents of Cleveland only.
- Cincinnati, 2.1% tax rate on all players.
A plethora of casinos have sprung up in each city, but the largest and most popular establishments are the Hollywood Casinos in Columbus, Cincinnati, and Toledo. Gamblers can also find casinos on Native-American reservations.
Bookmaking, which is described as facilitating schemes or games of chance for profit without a license, is illegal and strictly enforced by the Ohio Casino Control Commision.
Owning a slot machine of any model or age without a license is legal within Ohio as long as it is not used to generate revenue.
Players looking to gamble without leaving their home can also use our list of recommended online casinos for excellent online blackjack, roulette, and video poker options.
Types of Casinos in Ohio
Within Ohio, there are two different casino experiences. Land based casinos that offer table games and video lottery terminals and Racetrack casinos that offer betting on horse races across the country and video lottery machines. While typical in Vegas, many Ohio Casinos do not have hotels or exclusive designed restaurants within their casinos. This was done to help promote local business and be an attraction point in several major cities, instead of take from the Ohio economy.
Two primary players on the resort side are Hollywood Casinos and Horseshoe Casinos. The Hollywood Casino’s are located in major cities of Dayton, Toledo, and their largest location in Ohio located in Columbus. The Horseshoe Casino is a part of the Caesar’s Entertainment group. The Horseshoe is present in Cincinnati and Cleveland. The Horseshoe in Cleveland, Ohio was the first operating casino in Ohio. It has a strong affiliation with the Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert. Immediately upon opening its doors in May of 2012, plans were already in place with land purchased and is currently being developed to move to a bigger location within Cleveland that should offer a more friendly experience for customers as well as additional amenities.
Ohio Sportsbooks & Sports Betting
Currently, sports betting is illegal in Ohio, but a large push taking the form of Senate Bill 316 has begun to create momentum for its legalization. SB316 expresses the intent of the state to enact a sports wagering bill. Although the bill only outlines the outcomes some members of the Ohio Senate desire for sports gambling, it’s a valuable first step towards legalization as it creates an official starting point for other senators to build upon.
One of SB316’s sponsors, Senator Sean O’Brien, stated that he wants to have specific details in place for sports betting by September of 2018. Given the general public’s positive perception of gambling, the massive increase in gaming locations, and Ohio’s high revenue from casinos and raceways, there’s a high chance of sports gambling being legalized sometime in 2019.
eSports and fantasy gambling
Ohio doesn’t differentiate between electronic sports (eSports) gambling and traditional sports gambling. As of now, eSports gambling is illegal in Ohio.
In 2017, House Bill 132 successfully passed the Ohio Senate by a margin of 25-4. HB 132 exempts fantasy sports gaming from the gambling ban list, effectively legalizing it. Both FanDuel and DraftKings can be accessed while in Ohio.
Gamblers may place bets on horse race tracks that hold permits and participate in on-track pari-mutuel wagering at any legal satellite facilities.
Here are eight of the most popular tracks:
- Mahoning Valley Race Course, Youngstown
- Belterra Park, Cincinnati
- JACK ThistleDown, Cleveland
- Cedar Downs, Sandusky
- Miami Valley Gaming & Racing, Lebanon
- Northfield Park, Northfield
- Dayton Raceway, Dayton
- Scioto Downs, Columbus
Wagering on greyhound racing is currently illegal in Ohio.
Playing Poker in Ohio
Ohio law is flexible when it comes to gambling on games of chance that involve skill, allowing poker players to host small games within their private residence. However, poker tournaments held in the workplace are banned.
Poker has also been legalized in casinos. The following locations offer live poker tables:
- The Hollywood Casino in Columbus, Cincinnati, and Toledo.
- Horseshoe Casino Cleveland
- The Columbus Shark Tank Poker Club
- The Mansfield Gemini Poker Club in Ontario
- The Action Central Social Club in Dublin
Of these poker locations, the Hollywood Casino in Columbus features the most tables.
In 1973, Ohio citizens voted for a state constitutional amendment which permitted lotteries. Since then, the Ohio Lottery Commission has introduced several multi-state lotteries, including:
- Mega Millions
- Lucky for Life
The Ohio state lottery also offers:
- Pick 3, 4, and 5
All of Ohio’s gambling revenue earned from lotteries directly funds the state’s public education system, with gambling revenue making up approximately 4% of the department’s annual budget.
Winners are awarded 50% of the prize payout, the state claims 30-40% of the earnings as taxes, and the lottery operators receive whatever Ohio doesn’t take. The winner must claim the prize money within 180 days. Lottery prizes over $600 are subject to garnishment.
Ohio allows any recognized non-profit group to host charitable gambling events as long as all proceeds benefit a charity. Most forms of charity gaming are permitted.
The two biggest Bingo gaming locations are:
- Rinks Bingo hall in Cincinnati
- The Bingo Connection in Columbus
In Ohio, you must be 21 years of age and possess a valid drivers license to enter and gamble at casinos. Additionally, state of Ohio laws apply to alcohol purchase and consumption including minimum age restriction of 21 years old, and hours of purchase. All alcohol sales cease at 2am nightly in accordance with Ohio state laws.
Ohio Online Gambling FAQ
How Do I Get Started?
Picking the right site is the hardest part of getting started – everything else is really just a formality. All you need to do is sign up for an account, make a deposit, wait for your account to get verified and that’s it – you’re good to go.
How Do I Get My Money if I Win?
The money tied to your account is always at your disposal, just like with a standard e-wallet. If you want to receive a payout, open the cashier menu and place a payout request.
Requests of this type usually take up to 2 days to process – and since most iGaming sites rely on wire transfers when handling cash outs, you’ll probably have to wait for about a week more before the money actually goes through.
What is the minimum age to gamble online in Ohio?
18 for offshore gambling sites. Please note that the 21 casinos’ legal age applies exclusively to land-based gambling venues.
How do I open an account?
The first step is to fill out the appropriate form by providing your basic personal information. Once you’re done, you should submit a proof of identity, which will allow you to make the first real money deposit.
Where can I open my account from?
You can open your gambling account from anywhere in the United States.
From where can I access Ohio online gambling sites?
Ohio-friendly offshore gambling sites accept players from all over the United States, so you don’t have to be in Ohio in order to sign in and join the action.
However, you should definitely avoid gambling when visiting Washington or Utah, as both of those sites consider internet gambling to be a serious offense.
Where can I familiarize myself with the official regulations over gambling in Ohio?
If you’re looking for more information on Ohio gambling regulations, you should consult Ohio Code, Section 2915.
How do I deposit to my online gambling account?
Ohio-friendly sites usually require their customers to deposit via a credit card payment. Visa and MasterCard are supported by virtually every site in the industry. American Express cards, on the other hand, are supported by a limited number of sites due to their low reliability.
How do I withdraw my winnings?
The default cash out method is to use a wire transfer, but most Ohio-friendly sites will also allow you to withdraw via a check by mail.
Is my money safe?
The sites we recommend are perfectly safe. However, we can’t guarantee that every site that you find is going to be equally honest and professional. Consequently, you should be very careful when dealing with Ohio-facing iGaming sites that you aren’t already familiar with.
What body regulates gambling in Ohio?
Gambling in the Ohio area is regulated by Ohio Attorney General and the Ohio Lottery.