Ohio is finally ready to embrace sports betting, but sports bettors in the Buckeye State will have to wait a bit longer to do it legally. The reason is that Ohio’s lawmakers are still ironing out some differences and complications in the bills and acts that will make sports betting a reality.
Ohio has always been slow to the party when it comes to gambling. For example, it was not until 2011 that the then governor issued an executive order allowing racetracks to install video slot terminals, which is a fairly non-contentious issue. Additionally, it was not until 2009 that a referendum approved casinos in the state, thankfully.
So, how long will Ohioans have to wait until they can bet on sports? And, more importantly, where do matters stand right now? Here is everything you need to know about sports betting in Ohio.
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The State of Sports Betting in Ohio
Sports betting is still not legal in Ohio, yet. However, the good news is that there is a concerted effort from both sides of the legislature to legalize sports betting. However, this will take some time to put in writing and enact into law.
The house recently cleared bill HB 194, the bill that is expected to legalize sports betting in the state. The senate is also working on another bill to legalize sports betting, bill SB 111. Both bills overlap in about 90% of the content. Some of their recommendations include permitting both retails sportsbooks in land-based casinos and online betting via online operators. Both bills also agree on allowing betting on a wide range of professional and collegiate teams.
The fact that the proposed bills already have provisions for both land-based and online sports betting has already caused a stir in the budding industry. To this end, some of the biggest sportsbooks in the country and the world are rumored to be making inroads into the state. Some of the biggest names to look out for will be:
- William Hill
All of the land-based casinos operating in Ohio, including the commercial and tribal casinos, are also expected to qualify for the licensing necessary to set up their own retail sportsbooks. Additionally, these casinos are expected to partner with national and international sportsbooks to support online and mobile sports betting, as per the law.
However, the bills differed in certain technical aspects, including who would be tasked with regulating the sports betting industry and the tax rates that would be levied. Both houses are working on ironing out these differences, hence the delays in legalizing the practice. However, the fact that both parties agree makes things easy, and so the process may be expedited.
In the meantime, Ohioans who cannot wait for the legislature to work things out can try offshore betting sites. This is neither legal nor illegal, as the law doesn’t make any provisions for or against it. Offshore sports betting sites offer a wide range of sports betting options, including international listings. However, bettors should be careful not to sign up with unscrupulous platforms to swindle you – try to register with a nationally-licensed sportsbook for assurance of fair play.
So, when exactly can Ohioans expect to bet on sports legally in their own state? This is hard to say, as there are many factors at play. However, the earliest estimate is sometime towards the end of 2021 for two good reasons. First, the house has scheduled only two sessions for this fall, and activities are not expected to pick up until after the election. Second, it will take at least six months for the state and local governments to lay down the groundwork necessary to set up the sports betting industry.
Other Forms of Gambling in Ohio
Sports betting may still be illegal in Ohio, but the state has made great progress in other fields and forms of gambling. Other forms of legal gambling in the Sooner State include:
Casino gambling is still relatively new to the state, considering that it was Okayed in 2009 through a state-wide referendum. Today the state is home to four commercial casinos:
- Cleveland Casino
- Horseshoe Casino Toledo
- Hollywood Casino Columbus
- Horseshoe Cincinnati
Ohio’s casinos offer a wide variety of casino games, including slot games, table games, poker, bingo, keno, and more. It is also expected that these casinos will set up their own retail sportsbooks once sports betting is legalized.
Ohio is supportive of any gambling done for charity. According to the law, charities can host any form of gambling that involves a player giving something of value in the hopes of winning something of value back, all of which must be determined by chance. To this end, some of the gambling activities permitted under this clause include poker, roulette, craps, bingos, raffles, and more! There is also a strict requirement that all proceeds should go to charity.
Social gambling is also legal, as it aims at bringing people together. However, there are certain strict restrictions, as the law is against using social gambling to make substantial amounts of money. To this end, one of the requirements is that the host shouldn’t impose a house edge or profit in any way. The prizes are also restricted to the minimum, as winning huge profits amounts to making social gambling a substantial source of livelihood.
Racing is also legal and thriving in Ohio. There are seven racetracks in the state, including three thoroughbred tracks and four harness tracks. These are:
- Belterra Park
- Beulah Park
- Lebanon Raceway
- Northfield Park
- Raceway Park
- Scioto Downs
These racetracks also feature video slot machines. These video slots were approved via the governor’s executive action in 2011.
Lottery is the oldest form of gambling in Ohio. The available lottery options are Powerball, Mega Millions, Classic Lotto, Lucky for Life, Holiday Cash, Pick 3, Pick 4, and Pick 5.
Poker is inarguably the most popular table game at all four casinos in Ohio. The largest collection of poker games is at Hollywood Casino Columbus, which has a poker room with 36 tables. Jack Cincinnati comes in second with 31 tables, Jack Cleveland third with 30 tables, and Hollywood Casino Toledo comes in last with 20 tables.
The earliest that Ohioans can enjoy sports betting is mid or late 2021. The legislature will not finish working on the sports betting bills until after the election. Additionally, it will take at least six months for the government to set up the million-dollar or billion-dollar industry.
It is important to understand that Ohio doesn’t allow betting on offshore sportsbooks. However, the state seems to tolerate it, as there are few ways of monitoring offshore gambling activities anyway. Still, state residents gambling on offshore sportsbooks are advised to work with reputable brands that will not swindle them.
The legal age for engaging in the current forms of online gambling is 18 years or 21 years, depending on your tastes. You must be at least 18 years old to gamble on horse racing, lottery, and keno. Additionally, you must be at least 21 years old to gamble at the state’s casinos.