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Understanding Ohio's Gambling Laws

Published on Mon, March 11, 2024 by Mady Collins

Ohio legalized gambling in 2009, making it one of the few states where you can enjoy casino gaming without any legal repercussions. Even so, there are underlying stipulations that you must understand whether you're interested in visiting a casino in the state or simply wish to be informed about the region's legal gambling framework. Here, we'll provide you with detailed information concerning Ohio's casino and online gambling regulations. We also outline some of the limitations and penalties involved. So, play it safe and equip yourself with the necessary information that will help you navigate the gambling legislation without crossing any lines with the authorities.

Ohio Flag and Wooden Gavel with Casino Chips and Coins

Overview of Ohio's Gambling Regulations

Gambling is 100% legal in the Buckeye state. Ohioans can play Vegas-style games at brick-and-mortar establishments. The tipping point of the gambling industry came in 2009 after the government passed a law allowing casinos to operate in the region. Anyone 18 years old and above can play lottery, poker, pari-mutuel, and bingo. On the other hand, a player must be 21 years or older to participate in any casino gaming activity. Today, there are a total of 4 casinos and seven racinos (which can only have legal VLT terminal games) spread across different cities in the state, such as:

  • Hollywood Casino Columbus
  • Jack Casino Cleveland
  • Hollywood Casino Toledo
  • Jack Casino Cincinnati
  • Miami Valley Gaming (Racino)
  • Hollywood Casino Dayton (Racino)
  • Belterra Park Casino (Racino)
  • Jack Thistedown (Racino)
  • Scioto Downs Casino (Racino)
  • Hollywood Gaming at Mahoning Valley Race Course (Racino)
  • MGM Northfield Park (Formerlly) Hard Rock Rocksino (Racino)

So far, the Ohio Casino Control Commission regulates casino establishments in the region, whereas the Ohio Lottery oversees racinos and updates video lottery terminals.

Speaking of casinos, Jack Cleveland was the first land-based casino that came up in 2012. The establishment covers around 100,000 square feet with a collection of 1,609 slots, 119 table games, 35 electronic tables, and 28 poker games. Hollywood Casino Toledo came up right after Jack Cleveland. The establishment has a gaming space of 125,000 square feet with over 2002 slot machines, 60 table games, and 20 poker tables. These were followed by Hollywood Casino Columbus and Hard Rock Casino Cincinnati, two-store casinos with a gaming space of 100,000 square feet. Legalizing casino gaming in Ohio was a great idea because in October 2023, the gambling revenue for casinos and racinos in the state was $187.8 million which is incredible despite registering a 2% drop compared to the revenue remitted in October 2022.

Online Casino Laws in Ohio

Ohio's Approach to Online Gambling: Laws and Limitations

The Buckeye state is yet to decriminalize real money online casinos. Even so, players can enjoy Vegas-style online casino games on various social casino platforms operating in the region. Note that social casino sites are legal in the region, and in fact, they are not deemed as gambling. Unlike real money online casinos in the USA, social casinos, otherwise known as Sweepstake casinos, require players to purchase Sweeps Coins which they can use for playing games. They also offer users Gold Coins that are redeemable. Another form of online gambling that is legal in Ohio is online sports betting. The state allows individuals to place sports bets on different sites. Initially, sports betting was illegal in Ohio. However, the narrative started changing on 8 December 2021 after the General Assembly passed House Bill 29. The bill took effect in March 2022, and as of January 2023, sports betting became legal.

As expected, sports betting began on a high note as 2.25 million accounts were opened across 16 different betting sites in the first month of legalization. What is more compelling about Ohio's sports betting laws is that users are free to gamble on in-state college sports, an aspect that is considered illegal in most states. It is, however, unlawful to bet on high school sporting events. Furthermore, you need to be at least 21 years old to place sports bets or else risk rubbing shoulders with the authorities. With regards to betting limits, the local government does not allow anonymous bets worth over $1000, with a stringent betting limit of $700 per week.

Casino Cards and Ohio Flag

Understanding the Penalties

The Ohio gambling industry is governed by strict laws that players, casino employees, and casino owners must abide by to the latter. Breaking any of the rules attracts penalties, which may include a jail term or hefty fines. While the Ohio sports betting revenue is at a record high within the first months of its legalization, it is a mandate of the state to ensure that all laws are adhered to. The offenses are grouped into different categories. For instance, first-degree misdemeanors, if done purposefully, may lead to 6 months incarceration and a fine of up to $10,000. On the other hand, fifth-degree misdemeanors may lead to 12 months imprisonment and a fine of up to $2,500.

These penalties are charges on felonies, such as permitting an underage person (below 21 years) to gamble and making false statements during registration and application. It is also an offense to aid or permit an underage person to access a casino establishment. All casino offenses are listed on the Ohio revised code section 3772.99. Finally, it is a crime for students and coaches to bet on the sport they participate in. Students who violate this bylaw can lose eligibility, whereas coaches may be suspended. It is thus vital that you understand the different casino crimes and penalties involved so that you can avoid making mistakes that may lead to unwarranted penalties.

Virtual Reality and Casino Dice

The Future of Gambling in Ohio

Ohio is one of the states whose gambling industry is expected to thrive in the coming years. Since the passing of the commercial casino law in 2009, the industry has undergone an incredible transition, including the legalization of racinos and daily fantasy. The most significant moment, however, came in 2021 when the state legalized sports betting, a sector whose revenue hit $1.1 billion within months of its legalization. With such stirring statistics, the state may be compelled to legalize online casinos. If this happens, Ohioans will be able to play games at some of the best online casinos in the world. Maybe the United States should consider following the global trend of legislating online casinos in the near future by adopting the same or similar gambling laws around the world, as presented at TestCasinoEnLigne. All of these countries spotted a significant increase in the overall economic revenue, which proves that legislating online casinos can be beneficial both for the casino operators and the state.

Meanwhile, more companies are expected to operate sports betting apps and social casinos in Ohio, and this will definitely increase the number of betting kiosks in the region. The ultimate result is the surge of Ohio's gambling revenue. Also, as the gambling industry thrives, the local government will be under pressure to mitigate the negative effects that will follow. As a result, stakeholders should expect additional responsible gambling tools from The Ohio Casino Control Commission other than the solutions offered by the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services.


The gambling industry in Ohio has experienced exponential growth since the 2009 amendment that legalized casinos. Today, players in the region can play games in various casino establishments and racinos, provided they meet the minimum age requirement (21 years old and over). The state also allows lottery, scratch cards, and bingo gaming, not to mention sports betting, a thriving sector despite its recent ratification.

With the favorable gambling environment and relaxed regulations, the industry is expected to experience profound success in the few years to come. For instance, there is speculation that the local government may legalize online casinos, a sector that is currently dominated by social casinos, otherwise referred to as Sweepstakes casinos. Besides, The Ohio Casino Control Commission is anticipated to introduce more responsible gambling measures to protect players and prevent any negative impacts by the billion-dollar industry.