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Ohio Online Gambling Laws

There are no commercial casinos allowed in the State of Ohio, and there are no existing gaming compacts with Indian Tribes in Ohio. There have been a few attempts to expand gaming in Ohio, all of which have failed. The Ohio Gambling Laws currently allow charitable gaming, which includes instant bingo schemes as well as games of chance. Based on Ohio's non-friendly gambling position, we were not overjoyed at the lack of gambling entertainment opportunities available to players in Ohio, and feel committed to providing valuable information about what options players in Ohio have for both land based and/or Ohio online gambling.

Ohio gambling law does not specifically define the act of gambling. Gambling is a misdemeanor offense and includes

Playing games of chance in public places like halls and resorts is illegal. Ohio gambling law doles out heavier punishments to professional gamblers - those who gamble for a living. While taking part in an illegal game may not necessarily be illegal by itself, drawing substantial source of income from illegal gambling can result in heavier punishment.

Ohio gambling law clearly defines games of chance as craps, poker, roulette or any game where the outcome is determined largely by chance and where one player gives up something of value in the hope of gain. The law makes an exception for bingo. Besides bingo, charitable gambling including casino nights are legal in Ohio.

With Ohio's not-so-friendly position on gambling, many players opt to participate in legally licensed and regulated Ohio online casinos which are based outside of the United States. There are also some legitimate online sports betting sites accepting Ohio bettors.

Charitable Gambling in Ohio

In Ohio there are three types of licenses for charitable bingo - Type I, Type II and Type III. Organizations with Type I license cannot conduct more than two games a week and the games last more than 5 hours. These organizations generally hold a Saturday night bingo session and one other bingo night during the week. They can remain open for customers for a 14 hour period but the game cannot exceed 5 hours. Organizations with Type II bingo license can offer instant bingo card games. Instant bingo involves the selling of cards rather than holding a traditional game of bingo. Type III bingo license is issued only to sports associations, fraternal brotherhoods and veterans of foreign wars associations. These organizations can hold bingo games to raise money for their non-profits. An organization with a Type III bingo license can hold bingo games lasting up to 12 hours and on all days of the week.

History of Gambling in Ohio

Ohio's attempts to regulate gambling dates back to 1861 when the government first outlawed all games of chance. In 1869 the state began issuing licenses to operate games of chance. However in 1910 the state ordered all operating games of chance to shut down. In 1933 the state passed laws to legalize pari-mutuel betting. In fact it was amongst the first four states in the US to do so. Initially the law limited betting to horse racing but later was extended to phone and off track betting. There are 7 racing venues including 5 harness racing venues across Ohio. Quarter horse races held in Columbus and Cincinnati are legal. Legal harness races are also held at 67 different annual county fairs every June through October.

The state lottery was introduced in 1973 after the residents of Ohio voted in favor of having a state lottery. The proceeds from the state lottery are used for resident education programs. The state now participates in the multi-state lottery along with eight other states.

Ohio Poker Gambling Laws

In Ohio one can legally play poker at licensed casinos that offer poker. Social games of poker however can run afoul of Ohio gambling law if the house gets a share of the rake or the players have to pay a charge to participate in the game. Social or home poker games operated for profit are illegal. There are poker clubs in Ohio that operate as charitable gambling establishments. These clubs donate a percentage of the rake to charity.

In 2011, the Department of Justice declared that the Federal Wire Act is applicable only to sports betting and not to online poker. Following this decision, the Ohio Lottery director announced that the state would look into legalizing online poker in an attempt to generate more revenue. The issue is still being discussed behind closed doors.

In 2013, the Ohio Attorney General declared that electronic poker is illegal under Ohio law as these machines are slot machines. As such these machines are now legal only at licensed casinos. There was plan to get the issue of Internet Sweepstake Cafes before voters in 2014 but it failed to get the required number of signatures. Presently the law permits Internet Sweepstake Cafes to function in Ohio but the prize pay outs is limited to $10 a day.

There are currently no state based online poker sites which are licensed and regulated within the state of Ohio. There are however multiple legally licensed offshore online poker sites accepting Ohio players that are very secure and reputable options. There are no state or federal laws which prohibit offshore online gambling at legally licensed operations.

Online Gambling Laws In Ohio

The Federal Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 does not make it illegal to play online poker. It only places strict regulatory oversight on how online gambling transactions are processed. There are currently no federal or state laws which prohibit or criminalize Ohio online gambling that is legally licensed and regulated outside of the United States. There are some legitimate offshore gambling sites which offer a secure and reliable online gambling experience to USA players, including those players in Ohio.

Ohio Gambling Laws

Players who are interested in reading the actual laws and statutes in their official format can visit the Ohio Administrative Code Official Website.

**This page is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to serve as a professional interpretation of the law. If you are seeking a professional interpretation of any law or statute, we recommend you contact a laywer. If you are seeking legal services of any kind, we recommend that you contact a lawyer as well. We do not hold any law or legal degrees or certifications and do not claim to offer any type of legal services.