Legal Ohio gambling options consist of casinos, sports betting, horse racing betting, a state lottery, and charitable gambling. Ohio casinos offer the typical variety of games and are not subject to restrictions on table games as is in the case in some other states.
The minimum age to gamble at a casino in Ohio is 21, while the minimum age to bet on horses, buy lottery tickets and participate in other forms of gaming is 18.
- Sports betting: in person (retail sportsbooks) and online sportsbooks and betting apps
- Horse racing: Live, off-track and online betting
- Lottery: Scratch-off, lotto and keno sales at authorized retailers
- Slots, video poker and table games: Four regional resort casinos
- Live poker: Regional casinos and private clubs
- Video lottery slots and video poker: seven racetrack casinos (racinos)
- Bingo and raffles: only at registered charities
- Daily fantasy sports: Online
Legal Ohio Gambling Sites and Apps
Ohio Online Gambling
Ohio law permits two forms of online gaming:
- Daily fantasy sports
- Online horse racing betting
Although the classification of either of these as “gambling” is debatable due to the significant amount of skill involved in each, these are the only two forms of online gaming that are conducted in open view of law enforcement authorities.
Most major daily fantasy providers and racing betting operators offer their services in Ohio today. This means sports fans have plenty of options to choose from when it comes to betting on races or playing fantasy sports with operators that are fair, legal and headquartered in the USA.
Licensed operators may offer their services to Ohioans who are 18 or older.
Online Gambling Laws in Ohio
Mobile horse racing betting exists in a legal gray area in Ohio. Online racing betting (also known as Advance Deposit Wagering or ADW) is not specifically addressed by state law. However, the Ohio State Racing Commission has adopted rules governing the operation of ADW services.
This exchange between Senator Coley, an attorney and economist best explains the complicated landscape of advance deposit wagering in Ohio. The short version is that although the law does not specifically authorize ADWs, they operate in the open, handle substantial numbers of wagers and are accepted by the state racing commission.
There are two types of casinos in Ohio:
- Four resort-style casinos regulated by the Ohio Casino Control Commission
- Seven video lottery casinos regulated by the Ohio Lottery Commission
Each of the four resort-style casinos has a monopoly in its region of the state and is able to offer a full range of Vegas-style games. These include slots, video poker, keno, live poker, craps, roulette, blackjack, three card poker, and more.
The seven video lottery racinos may only offer video lottery terminals that look and function nearly the same as traditional slots.
List of Brick and Mortar Casinos in Ohio
List of Ohio Racinos
|Scioto Downs||JACK Thistledown Racino|
|MGM Northfield Park||Miami Valley Gaming|
|Belterra Park||Hollywood Gaming at Dayton Raceway|
|Hollywood Gaming at Mahoning Valley Race Course|
Ohio Casino Laws
After attempts failed to legalize Ohio casinos in 1980, 1990 and 1996, a constitutional amendment was approved by voters in 2009. This opened the door for four regional casinos in the state. The first Ohio casino opened in Cleveland on May 14, 2012.
The four regional casinos may spread any slot or table game available in major gaming markets. The casino tax rate in Ohio is 33 percent. There is also an initial $1.5 million application fee, a $50 million licensing fee and a commitment to invest at least $250 million. There is a renewal tax every three years of $500,000 for the application and $1.5 million for the license.
Ohio casinos may not have more than 5,000 machines and all machines must provide a theoretical payout percentage of at least 85%. There is no cap on the number of table games or poker tables. Ohio casino law is governed by ORC §3772.
The seven racinos in Ohio operate under the state lottery and may offer video lottery terminals (VLTs) under ORC §3770.21. VLT racetrack operating standards, licensing information, and other resources are available through the OH Lottery website here.
Video lottery race tracks are also subject to an initial licensing fee of $50 million and may have no more than 2,500 machines. VLT race tracks are subject to the tax scheme described in ORC §3769.087.
Tax revenues collected from VLT race tracks are used for municipal management and public education.
Ohio Sports Betting
Sports betting is legal in Ohio, both in-person and via online sports betting apps. Ohio sportsbooks are overseen by the Casino Control Commission.
Sports Betting Laws in Ohio
Currently, the only mention of sports betting in Ohio law is a provision specifically outlawing the activity. This will change if and when lawmakers pass legislation to authorize sports betting, of course, but for now sports betting is illegal.
ORC §2915.01 defines “bookmaking” as follows:
“…the business of receiving or paying off bets.”
Ohio law is unique in that it does not just prohibit acting as a bookmaker, but also placing wagers with a bookmaker. ORC 2915.02(A) states no person shall “engage in bookmaking, or knowingly engage in conduct that facilitates bookmaking.”
Further, ORC 2915.02(B) specifies that “a person facilitates bookmaking if the person in any way knowingly aids an illegal bookmaking operation, including, without limitation, placing a bet with a person engaged in facilitating illegal bookmaking.”
Violation of the state’s bookmaking law is a misdemeanor in the first degree for a first offense. If the offender has a conviction for any gambling-related offense in the past, it becomes a felony in the fifth degree.
Poker is legal at Ohio’s four regional casinos. This includes cash games and tournaments of Texas Hold’em, Omaha, Seven Card Stud and mixed games. Casinos charge a rake to cover the costs associated with the game.
There are also dozens of poker clubs in Ohio. These are open to the public and require a membership fee. The tables offer food and beverages and do not take a rake at the tables.
Poker Laws in Ohio
Poker is considered a game of chance under Ohio Revised Code 2915.01(D) and is therefore illegal unless offered through a licensed casino or the game is organized in a matter to meet social gambling exemptions.
Private poker clubs are legal as long as they do not charge a rake. Private clubs may charge a fee for membership, which works in effect like the time charges used by cardrooms in other states. While casinos are limited to guests 21 and older, private cardrooms may accept guests who are 18 or older.
Are Home Poker Games Legal in Ohio?
Ohio has a social gaming exception to its gambling laws. Home poker games are permitted if the house does not make money directly from the operation of the game. In other words, if no rake is dropped, the game is legal. This exception also opened the door for private poker clubs throughout the state.
Ohio Daily Fantasy Sports
Daily fantasy sports contests were legalized in Ohio through the passage of HB 132 in December 2017.
The law (OAC §3772-74) establishes a minimum age of 18 to participate, requires operators to pay an annual licensing fee that ranges from $3,000 to $30,000 depending on the number of players from Ohio who played in at least one paid contest with that operator over the previous year.
The fantasy division of the Ohio Casino Control Commission oversees the conduct of fantasy operators.
The Ohio State Lottery has been in operation since 1974 and offers instant games, tickets to large drawings and keno. The lottery also oversees the conduct of race tracks with video lottery terminals.
To date, the lottery has provided more than $25 billion to public education across the Buckeye State.
Intrastate Ohio Lotto Games
- Pick 3
- Pick 4
- Pick 5
- Rolling Cash 5
- Classic Lotto + Kicker
Interstate Ohio Lotto Games
- Lucky for Life
- Mega Millions
Ohio Lottery Law
The Ohio Lottery was established by a statewide referendum in 1973. The measure passed by a nearly 3-to-1 vote and the first game went on sale the following year.
Lottery proceeds originally went to the general fund but shifted to funding public education after action from the Ohio Legislature in 1983. In 1987, Ohio voters approved a constitutional amendment to permanently earmark Lottery revenues for public education. Taxes generated by the lottery may not supplant existing education funding.
Ohio Horse Racing Betting
Ohio is home to seven major horse race tracks. Online wagering is permitted through advanced deposit wagering operators, although the legality of online racing betting has never been formally decided one way or another.
All seven tracks also offer video lottery terminals (VLTs) regulated by the Ohio Lottery Commission.
Ohio Horse Racing Betting Laws
The Ohio State Racing Commission was established by the Ohio Legislature in 1933 when pari-mutuel wagering was legalized. Horse racing betting is taxed at a rate of one percent for the first $100,000 in daily racing handle. That goes up to two percent at $200,000 and three percent at $300,000. Any daily handle amount over $400,000 is taxed four percent.
Exotic wagers have an additional tax rate of 3.5 percent. There is also a rate of 0.1 percent per meet for handle under $5 million and 0.15 percent if handle is above $5 million for a meet.
Horseracing bettors must be at least 18 years of age. This includes live and online betting. Patrons of the attached video lottery racinos must be at least 21 years of age.
Ohio Esports Betting
Esports are not specifically addressed by Ohio gambling law. One would need to determine the level of chance involved. Players making wagers between one other are likely to fall under skill-based gambling exemptions while spectators placing wagers on the outcomes of other people’s matches would almost certainly run afoul of criminal laws regarding illegal bookmaking.
Ohio Skill Games
Ohio’s gambling definition under Ohio Revised Code 2915.01(d) states that an outcome that is determined “largely by chance” is illegal if it is not a part of a licensed gaming activity. This allows for some amount of chance to be legal in a competition in which entrants pay a fee and compete for prizes.
Skill-based gaming machines are legal at Ohio casinos. These are licensed in the same way as other games. Other skill-based amusement games are regulated by the Ohio Casino Control Commission. Payouts on these machines away from casinos must be limited to merchandise valued at $10 or less. Cash may not be awarded on these devices outside casinos.
Ohio Charity Bingo Laws
Ohio permits charities that qualify as a nonprofit under IRS Code 501(a) or 501(c)(3), as well as local public service departments, to operate raffles and bingos. The Ohio Attorney General’s office regulated charitable gaming. There is a fee of up to $200 to get registered. Charities must be in operation for at least two years before being granted a bingo license.
Ohio Gaming Regulator Directory
- Ohio Casino Control Commission
- Ohio Lottery
- Ohio State Racing Commission
- Ohio Attorney General (charitable gaming)
Ohio Gambling FAQ
Ohio Problem Gambling Resources
Ohio is home to several state-level gambling resources as listed below. Additionally, anyone who has a question about problem gambling or who is worried about a loved one who may have a gambling problem can make use of national resources such as the National Council on Problem Gambling, Gamblers Anonymous, Gam-Talk and GamblingTherapy.com.
- Ohio for Responsible Gambling
- Get Set Before You Bet
- Play It Safe Ohio for Licking County, Knox County and Butler County help