Ohio is not a state you typically associate with gambling, much less gambling online. However, during the past decade or so, Ohio has undergone a bit of a gambling renaissance. It is home to four new casinos, one each in Columbus, Cincinnati, Cleveland, and Toledo. And video lottery terminals are up and running at seven racetracks.
Online casino gambling in Ohio is not legal… yet. But with all the movement in the last few years, there’s hope and a chance that something could happen. To be fair, it can be hard to keep track of what’s going on. Thankfully, you’ve made it here, where we have all the information and data about the gambling options in the Buckeye State. Welcome to Ohio, and read on for all the latest in the “Heart of It All.”
Play online slots and blackjack in Ohio
Is online gambling legal in Ohio?
For the most part, no. The notion of online gambling in the US usually relates to casinos, poker, and sports betting. In those cases, the answer is definitively negative: There are no real money sites offering those games under Ohio law.
On the other hand, there are a few online gaming options that bear mention for Ohioans and visitors to the Buckeye State. The first thing to mention are the sweepstakes sites. These are online companies that provide access to games you’d typically find on an online casino or poker site. However, thanks to their business models, they are classified as sweepstakes under the law, rather than true online casino sites, and are able to operate in most states, including Ohio.
So, for online slots, Ohio residents can explore the offerings at Chumba Casino, Luckyland Slots, or Funzpoints. For online poker, you can try Global Poker. If table games are your preference, you’ll probably have to shop around on the sites mentioned above, although most allow you to play blackjack online.
Another option that you can try is online horse betting. Betting on horse racing has been legal for states to offer since 2000, when a bill from the US House of Representatives added language to the Interstate Horse Racing Act of 1978 to include wagers placed through “electronic media,” legalese for the internet. From that point, each state had the opportunity to decide for itself whether to allow citizens to play. In Ohio, the best option is TVG.
Finally, it is completely legal for players over the age of 18 to play daily fantasy sports (DFS) in Ohio. Thanks to a 2018 law, five different companies — DraftKings, FanDuel, Yahoo! Fantasy Sports, StatHero, and Fantasy Golf’s OG — are fully licensed to offer DFS games in the Buckeye State and are regulated by the Ohio Casino Control Commission.
Are online casinos legal in Ohio?
No. There are no legal online casinos in Ohio. Although Ohio law does not specifically ban online casinos from doing business in the state, it doesn’t approve of them, either.
The only online casino-type options that you have available are the sweepstakes sites mentioned above. Our top pick for an Ohio sweepstakes casino is Chumba Casino. Chumba uses a unique dual-currency system where you can play for free and win real prizes. Chumba also has a selection of casino table games available for play. The list includes blackjack, roulette, and video poker.
Other sweepstakes casinos that you might try include Luckyland Slots and Funzpoints. Both of these options are almost purely slot sites, although you might find a few options for keno on each. Finally, there are some slot and table games available through Global Poker including jackpot slots, blackjack, roulette, Caribbean stud, and casino hold’em onsite.
Can you play slots online in Ohio?
No. There are no legal online casinos with slot titles available in Ohio at this time.
The only online slot options that you can play legally in Ohio are on the sweepstakes sites mentioned above. Chumba Casino, Luckyland Slots, and Funzpoints each have beautifully-rendered slot titles that you can play for free and win real prizes. The games play just like any other slot game and include bonus rounds, free spins and jackpots.
Can you play online poker in Ohio?
No. There is no law that makes online poker legal in Ohio. To be honest, there’s no reason to expect any change on this status any time soon, either.
While online poker has a rabid fanbase, the peer-to-peer game is often the last priority of online gambling companies and state legislatures because it brings in the least revenue. It usually becomes legal as an add-on to an online casino expansion. For Ohio, there’s no reason to assume that online poker will show up prior to online casinos, so the best thing to do is to keep your ears to the ground for any movement on the online casino front.
In the meantime, as you’ve probably guessed, you can use a sweepstakes poker site that provides both poker tournaments and cash games. Global Poker is a sister site to Chumba and Luckyland, and it offers action around-the-clock from almost every state in the country. You can find cash games, tournaments, and sit-n-gos for no-limit hold’em, pot-limit Omaha, and Crazy Pineapple.
Will Ohio regulate online gambling in the future?
Possibly. Although online casinos and poker don’t seem to be on the horizon at the moment, there are several other indications that online gambling might become part of Ohio’s landscape relatively soon.
The first thing to note is that Ohio has already demonstrated that it is willing to legalize types of online gambling. The state’s decision to legalize, license, and regulate daily fantasy sports, for instance, is a clear signal that there is not an excessive amount of legislative pushback toward gambling online. Similarly, top horse betting sites like the aforementioned TVG and TwinSpires are available for Ohio residents and visitors. So, the notion of online gambling itself does not seem to be offensive to Ohio lawmakers.
Secondly, the House has already passed a sports betting bill that contains language to allow for online sports betting in Ohio. Specifically, Section 3770.31 (C) of HB194 reads as follows: “The commission may adopt rules allowing a sports gaming agent to accept wagers on sporting events online over the internet from persons who are physically present in this state.” So, although this effort died in the Senate, it is clear that the House of Representatives sees a clear need for an online sports betting provision for Ohio.
Finally, Ohio is geographically surrounded by online gambling. Of the five states that share a border with the Buckeye State, four of them have online gambling in significant capacities. Michigan and Pennsylvania are full-service online gambling states. West Virginia has online casinos and sports betting, and Indiana online sports betting has been live since 2019. Only Kentucky remains as an online gambling holdout. Undoubtedly, Ohio legislators are watching things unfold intently.
So, the bottom line is that there are plenty of reasons to feel hopeful about online gambling coming to Ohio. Online sports betting is the closest to reality, but anything can happen in a legislative session.
What is the legal gambling age in Ohio?
As is often the case, there are different gambling age requirements in Ohio for the games that you can play. For the most part, the legal gambling age in Ohio is 21 or older. You must be at least 21 to gamble in one of the casinos or to play on one of the VLTs at a racino. Parimutuel betting, charitable gaming, and the lottery are all for 18-year-olds or higher.
Legal online gambling vs. offshore sites
You might be a bit confused about some of the things that we wrote above. Specifically, it may seem odd that we stated unequivocally that there are no legal online gambling sites in Ohio.
Ohio law simply does not address online gambling in any meaningful form.
Ohio does not license or operate any gambling sites. Unless it’s a sweepstakes site, the online casinos accepting Ohio players are based offshore. Their offices and servers are outside the United States. This comes with several risks, however, and we list them below:
- Trust. At the end of the day, you have no way to know who these companies are, what their track record is, and if your money is safe. A number of offshore casinos have a history of payment problems.
- Unregulated. Sites operating outside the US are also not subject to US law. Although sites claim they are licensed, it’s unclear what type of authority these foreign agencies can actually exert over the sites.
- Safety. Finally, it’s important to remember the type of information you provide to an online gambling site. When you create an account or deposit funds, you’re providing sensitive information. There’s no guarantee that an offshore site will keep that information secure.
The best thing to do is keep your online gambling inside the US and inside Ohio. It’s just not worth the risk in order to play a few hands of your favorite game.
Who will regulate Ohio online gambling?
In all likelihood, the Ohio Casino Control Commission (OCCC). Obviously, without online gambling underway in Ohio, it’s hard to know exactly which state agency will act as the regulator over the various industries. The DFS law gives the OCCC the authority to regulate, but the failed 2020 sports betting law installed the Ohio Lottery Commission as its regulator. Furthermore, the Ohio Racing Commission has some jurisdiction over the seven racetracks and the off-track betting location in the state.
So, it’s a bit of a muddled mess. However, given that most activities that qualify as online gambling would be closer to casino games than anything else, the best bet for the regulator is the OCCC. Even if those other agencies get involved, there’s no scenario in which the casino control commission would not be a part of the oversight efforts.
Types of legal gambling in Ohio
While online casinos and poker sites are up in the air for the most part, Ohio has several different types of legal gambling occurring inside its borders at any one time. Ohio residents and visitors can find something to bet around the clock, no matter where they are. However, this wealth of options is actually a fairly recent development in the Buckeye State. Neither casinos nor the slot machine-like video lottery terminals (VLTs) at racetracks showed up until 2012. Until that point, Ohio was a lottery and racetrack state, nothing more.
However, the Buckeye State has come around quite profoundly in the past few years. So, here are all the different types of legal gambling available in Ohio:
- Casino gaming
- Parimutuel betting (horse racing)
- Online horse betting
- Video lottery terminals
- Daily fantasy sports
- Charitable games
- Home poker games
Are there casinos in Ohio?
Yes. Ohio has four full-service casinos and seven racinos inside state lines. The four casinos are strategically placed so that each of Ohio’s four largest cities — Columbus, Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Toledo – has a location. The racinos do not have the same requirement, but they are mostly clustered around the same population centers.
The casinos themselves can offer almost any type of casino game. However, the racinos are limited to VLTs, which are essentially slot machines. Table games are not permitted at the tracks. Finally, there is a lone off-track betting theater located in Ohio. However, the Cedar Downs OTB in Sandusky is not permitted to offer VLTs or any other type of wagering beyond parimutuel betting on simulcast horse races. There are no tribal casinos in Ohio. As such, here is a list of all the different gaming locations in the state:
|Name||Address||Phone Number||Owner/Operator||Live Poker?(Y/N)|
|Hard Rock Casino Cincinnati||1000 Broadway St, Cincinnati, OH 45202||(513) 257-2253||Hard Rock International||Y|
|Hollywood Casino Toledo||1968 Miami St, Toledo, OH 43605||(419) 661-5200||Penn National Gaming||Y|
|Hollywood Columbus Casino||200 Georgesville Rd, Columbus, OH 43228||(614) 308-3333||Penn National Gaming||Y|
|JACK Cleveland Casino||100 Public Square, Cleveland, OH 44113||(216) 297-4777||JACK Entertainment||Y|
Racinos & OTBs
|Name||Address||Phone Number||Type||Owner/Associated Racetrack|
|Belterra Park Gaming||6301 Kellogg Rd, Cincinnati, OH 45230||(513) 232-8000||Racino||Boyd Gaming|
|Eldorado Gaming Scioto Downs||6000 S High St, Columbus, OH 43207||(614) 295-4700||Racino||Caesars Entertainment|
|Hollywood Gaming at Dayton Raceway||3100 Needmore Rd, Dayton, OH 45414||(937) 235-7800||Racino||Penn National Gaming|
|Hollywood Gaming at Mahoning Valley Race Course||655 N Canfield Niles Rd, Youngstown, OH 44515||(877) 788-3777||Racino||Penn National Gaming|
|JACK Thistledown Racino||21501 Emery Rd, North Randall, OH 44128||(216) 662-8600||Racino||JACK Entertainment|
|MGM Northfield Park||10777 Northfield Rd, Northfield, OH 44067||(330) 908-7625||Racino||MGM Resorts International|
|Miami Valley Gaming & Racing||6000 OH-63, Lebanon, OH 45036||(513) 934-7070||Racino||Delaware North/Churchill Downs|
|Cedar Downs Off Track Betting Theater||1935 Cleveland Rd W, Sandusky, OH 44870||(419) 627-8573||Off-track Betting Parlor||MGM Resorts International|
Types of games at Ohio casinos
Needless to say, there are plenty of casino games to play at Ohio casinos. Before we talk about all the different options you have, it’s important to understand that there is only one type of game available at the seven racinos in the state. These properties are only allowed to offer VLTs. So, while you can find the games listed below in Ohio’s true casinos, don’t go looking for them at the nearest racetrack.
Here are the types of casino games you will find in Ohio:
- Video poker
- Blackjack w/numerous side bets
- Craps/Craps Free Craps w/numerous side bets
- Baccarat/Mini-baccarat/EZ Baccarat
- 3 Card Poker
- Mississippi Stud
- Ultimate Texas Hold’em
- Face Up Pai Gow Poker
- High Card Flush/I Luv Suits Poker
- Criss Cross Poker
- Crazy 4 Poker
- DJ Wild
- Electronic table games/Synergy table games
- Live poker
Ohio Poker Laws
Public poker games became legal with the passage of the Ohio Casino Approval and Tax Distribution Amendment in 2009. This constitutional amendment was a ballot measure that asked voters to decide whether to place casinos in Columbus, Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Toledo. Although the law did not mention poker specifically, Chapter 3772 of the Ohio Code (the Casino Control Act) defines casino gaming as the following:
“… any type of slot machine or table game wagering, using money, casino credit, or any representative of value, authorized in any of the states of Indiana, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia as of January 1, 2009.”
So, since poker certainly exists in those states, it became legal for Ohio’s new casinos to offer it, too. The first Ohio casino opened its doors in 2012, and three others followed shortly afterward. All four casinos maintain poker rooms to this day, and they are the best opportunity for poker players to stretch their legs within the state of Ohio.
However, it is also possible to play poker in one’s home with friends, if you like. Thankfully, Ohio law does not consider home poker games to be illegal gambling so long as nobody charges for hosting or running the game. In other words, rake-free games played at home are perfectly fine for Ohioans to play.
Interestingly, Ohio law is specific that the game must take place in the home. According to Ohio Revised Code, Chapter 2915.04, “no person, while at a hotel, restaurant, tavern, store, arena, hall, or other place of public accommodation, business, amusement, or resort shall make a bet or play any game of chance or scheme of chance.” In other words, if you’re on a trip to the Buckeye State, you probably should leave the deck of cards at home. Since there’s a poker room in every large city in the state, it shouldn’t be too difficult to find a game.
History of gambling in Ohio
If you haven’t been to Ohio in a while, you might be shocked at the number of gambling options that have shown up in recent years. Until 2012, Ohio was in roughly the same place about gambling as states like Texas or pre-2020 Tennessee. In other words, citizens had horse racing and lottery opportunities, but that was about it.
However, Ohio lawmakers have advanced the state’s gambling profile dramatically in the last decade or so. There are now four full-fledged casinos in the state. In addition, the state’s seven racetracks have been converted into racinos, thanks to the inclusion of video lottery terminals that function, more or less, like slot machines.
Here are some of the most important moments in Ohio gambling history.
After many decades of remaining steadfast about gambling’s illegality, the Ohio General Assembly reverses course and decides to allow pari-mutuel wagering to proceed at the state’s horse racing tracks. The Ohio Racing Commission is born and becomes the regulator over the nascent industry, a position that the agency retains to this day. At present, the ORC oversees activities at seven different live racing venues in the state.
Three years of legislative efforts pay off as the Ohio Lottery sold its first ticket. In 1971, a push to bring Ohio lottery games to the Buckeye State surfaced due to the work of State Sen. Ron Mottl. Mottl succeeded in getting State Issue 1, the Ohio State Lottery Amendment, onto the 1973 ballot. It passes overwhelmingly, with more than 64% of voters approving the measure. Just over a year later, Buckeye 300 becomes the first lottery game sold in Ohio.
After decades of quiescence, Ohio gambling positively erupted in 2012. Eleven locations with slot-like games and four full-service casino venues opened in the state.
Three years earlier, voters had narrowly (53%-47%) approved a ballot measure to bring casino gambling to Ohio. The Ohio Casino Approval and Tax Distribution Amendment proposed placing one land-based casino in each of Ohio’s four largest cities. The citizens of Columbus, Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Toledo would now have casino game opportunities mere minutes away. Obviously, legalization does not usually equate to a physical launch, so there was a delay until the newly-created Ohio Casino Control Commission (OCCC) and the various companies could get their respective ducks in a row. Everything came together in May 2012 when the then-Horseshoe Casino opened in Cleveland (it later became the Jack Casino). By March 2013, all four casinos had opened their doors in their respective cities.
Meanwhile, the Ohio Lottery Commission was busy with its own massive expansion project. House Bill 386, which had been swirling through the various chambers of the Ohio General Assembly and Gov. John Kasich’s office, receives its final approval in May 2012. The bill allows the lottery to place video lottery terminals, or VLTs, at each of Ohio’s seven racetracks. VLTs are technically lottery games, but they are virtually indistinguishable from standard slot machines to most players. VLTs begin appearing almost immediately, with the first racino launching in June 2012. All seven tracks would have VLTs by November 2014. There are now more than 11,000 VLTs spread across the seven locations in Ohio.
Ohio added to its gambling profile in March 2018 with the addition of House Bill 132. This law provides for the authorization and legalization of daily fantasy sports play in the Buckeye State. By virtue of the law, the Ohio Casino Control Commission is now charged with coming up with rules and a scheme to regulate the industry inside state lines. Unfortunately, the OCCC takes more than a year to finalize its plans, and the first licenses are not issued until 2020. However, at present, five DFS providers are permitted to offer DFS action to Ohio residents and visitors.
State Reps. Dave Greenspan and Brigid Kelly act as the primary sponsors for House Bill 194. This bill aims “to legalize and regulate sports gaming in this state, to levy a tax on businesses that provide sports gaming, to create a Sports Gaming Advisory Board, and to require the State Lottery Commission to make certain lottery games available in Ohio.” In other words, sports betting is coming to Ohio, and lottery officials are going to manage it. The bill proves quite popular in the House, passing in May 2020 via an 83-10 vote. Unfortunately, all the bill’s forward momentum comes to a screeching halt the following month, and it died without much consideration in the Senate. However, with the Senate Select Committee on Gaming having frequent meetings in 2021, it’s clear that the ball is rolling for sports betting in Ohio.
Responsible gaming in Ohio
Problem gambling is an unfortunate reality that plagues a portion of the gambling public. The good news is that few states have a more comprehensive set of programs to deal with problem gambling than Ohio. There are several state agencies involved, and it is clear that the Ohio Legislature sees gambling addiction as a problem worthy of attention.
- The first place to go is the Problem Gambling Network of Ohio. This organization is a nonprofit organization that provides both educational and referral services for those dealing with gambling addiction in the Buckeye State. You can find numerous resources to help you get in touch with the information and the people that you need.
- Another resource that you can always use is the Ohio Problem Gambling Helpline (800-589-9966). This telephone number will connect you with a referral counselor around the clock. He or she can refer you for treatment options near your home. Ohio fully funds problem gambling treatment for its residents, so you don’t need to wait or worry about any bills for your therapy.
- You can also visit Ohio for Responsible Gambling. This program is a state-run initiative that helps to coordinate efforts between the Ohio Lottery, the Ohio Casino Control Commission, the Ohio State Racing Commission, and the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (ODMHAS). ODMHAS is the lead agency for the group, and both the Ohio for Responsible Gambling website and the ODMHAS website can also work to get you connected with trained counselors and medical professionals for gambling addiction.
If you would prefer to go a different route, there is always the option of finding one of the many Gamblers Anonymous chapters that meet across the state of Ohio. Each chapter meets once a week, and you can find others who are in recovery that can give you support, accountability, and encouragement to begin your journey and stay on the right path. Family members of problem gamblers can also find support in this manner through GAM-ANON, the sister organization to Gamblers Anonymous.
Ohio voluntary exclusion program
The state of Ohio maintains the Ohio Voluntary Exclusion Program for gamblers who need to take more drastic measures to get control of their habits. By asking to be placed into this program, you will be barred from entering or taking part in any activities at Ohio casinos, racinos, and lottery games for a specified period of time.
The time periods of exclusion are either 1 year, 5 years, or permanently. In addition, your exclusion will be shared with sister properties in other states that are owned by the same companies in Ohio. If you attempt to gamble while in the program, you are subject both to arrest for trespassing and forfeiture of any winnings or gambling funds that you have converted for play. It is a harsh step, to be sure, but for those who cannot stop, it is sometimes the only way.
Problem gambling costs millions of dollars a year and harms both addicts and their families. If you are struggling in Ohio, there is absolutely no time to waste. Make the call today and get started on the path back to the light.