Ohio Retail Casinos

With the state moving in the direction of legalizing online sports betting, the industry will develop in coordination with Ohio casinos, a relatively new industry for the state.

The Buckeye State has evolved dramatically from its restrictive past, having opened the door to four retail casinos, daily fantasy sports, and online horse race betting even before casinos were fully legalized. Since those adjustments, the state has become much better for folks who enjoy retail and online wagering, and there is more good news on the horizon.

Online and retail sports betting is likely to be legalized sometime over the next few months due to the support of the governor, plus support for a popular House bill that is already on its way to the Senate. However, online casino legalization doesn’t look quite as optimistic.

Let’s take a closer look at the state of online gambling in Ohio and take a deep dive into the retail casinos that were constructed not too long ago. You’ll know which ones to check out whether you live in Ohio or are just visiting.

Is Online Gambling And Sports Betting Legal In Ohio?

Not yet. While Ohio has several retail casinos and is positively surrounded by legal online casino and sports betting industries, it has not yet legalized online casino games to any capacity. While you can enjoy online sweepstakes casinos in Ohio as you can in other states, online casino games where you wager real-world cash are still illegal.

There are a couple of exceptions to this. Technically, you can play online daily fantasy sports (DFS) because it doesn’t count as online gambling.

You’ll also be able to place wagers on horse races online thanks to the Interstate Horse Racing Act of 1978. Apps like TVG are great choices for online gamblers who appreciate putting money down on horse races. However, you might find more fun at the seven retail racinos that dot Ohio. These offer horse wagering and slot games like the kind you’d find at a retail casino.

At the moment, Ohio residents interested in online casino gambling must travel to states like Michigan and Pennsylvania, which offer full-service online gambling activities. There is also no current legislative momentum leading to online casino legalization, although things could change over the next few months with the passage of online sports betting bills.

Alternatively, you could check out various social or sweepstakes casinos, which are completely legal. There are plenty of great social casino options, the best of which include Chumba Casino and LuckyLand Slots. These sister sites provide over 100 slot games between each other, plus a handful of table games and even one video poker title.

If you’re in the mood for card games instead of table games, Global Poker provides a legal and safe alternative to offshore or illegal poker sites. It’s a social poker platform that is enjoyed throughout almost all 50 states, including Ohio, and provides a good player base so you always have someone to play a few hands with.

Legalization Of Sports Betting

As far as sports betting is concerned, initially promising developments were stalled in 2020 in part due to COVID-19. However, things may be looking up for this state in 2021. HB 194, which is a prospective bill that would legalize both retail and online sports betting in Ohio, has been passed in the House of Representatives and is moving to the Senate.

Furthermore, a recently developed Senate Select Committee on Gaming has been meeting with stakeholders and sports betting experts in the last few weeks and months. Governor Mike DeWine has gone on record stating his support for online sports betting.

All in all, sports wagering may not be legal in Ohio yet, but it is likely coming sometime in 2021 or early 2022.

Ohio Casino List

In total, Ohio residents have access to four full-service casinos in addition to seven “racinos,” which are essentially hybrid race track/casino locations that offer wagering opportunities for both casino games and horse racing events.

Each of the four retail casinos is in one of the four most populous cities in the state, including Columbus, Cleveland, Toledo, and Cincinnati. The racinos are usually in similar areas as well. One big thing to note is that while these casinos offer a variety of casino games like slot games and table games, racinos can only provide slot machine games due to certain legislation.

Hard Rock Casino Cincinnati

This casino was actually previously a JACK casino (more on that below). This downtown gaming institution changed hands in 2019 and has over 100,000 ft.² dedicated to gaming space. It provides 1,700 slot machines, a classy and spacious poker room, and 100 different table games like blackjack and roulette.

Hollywood Casino Toledo

The first of the two Hollywood Casinos has a lot to offer including 125,000 ft.², over 2,000 slot machines, five dozen table games, and an expansive poker room with 19 tables in total. A variety of entertainment venues and easy access to nearby freeways make this a popular weekend destination for both Toledo residents and others from around Ohio.

Hollywood Columbus Casino

Columbus’ Hollywood Casino is the only retail casino location where you’ll find video poker machines. In addition to these offerings, visitors can check out over 2000 slot machines, a dedicated poker room, and 60 table games. A nearby hotel and resort-like amenities make this a complete casino resort experience.

JACK Cleveland Casino

This casino was the first opened in Ohio in 2012. It’s also still one of the most expansive and luxurious, offering 150,000 ft.² of gaming space, 1,200 slot games, and 100 table games. In addition, it provides a variety of other leisure activities and venues for entertainment events, plus 16 distinct bars and restaurants.

Note that each of the above casinos’ poker rooms is currently closed due to COVID-19 restrictions. Once the pandemic is fully gone and restrictions are lifted, the poker rooms will be available for your enjoyment once again.

Live Sports Betting In Ohio

As mentioned, sports betting is still illegal in Ohio at the time of this writing. But HB 194 is currently being debated by the Ohio Senate. Given Gov. Mike DeWine’s support for sports betting, it’s likely that this bill will pass the Senate over the next month or so, then lead to a governor’s signature and full legalization.

Fortunately, this means that Ohio residents may be able to see sports betting made available by the end of 2021.

The above bill will allow for both retail and online sports betting activities. The four commercial casinos will likely open a retail sports betting venue by partnering with one of many big operators like DraftKings and FanDuel. 

There’s not yet any indication which organization will be responsible for regulating the future sports betting industry. There are several big contenders for the position, including the Ohio Lottery Commission or the Ohio Racing Commission. 

Furthermore, we don’t know whether collegiate wagering will be legal, partly legal, or banned entirely.

If and when sports betting does finally launch in this state, operators will likely apply for licensure ASAP, leading to rapid launch of the online industry even if the retail industry lags behind a little. That’s partially because daily fantasy sports are already offered in Ohio by operators like DraftKings and FanDuel.

Bottom line: live sports betting isn’t yet legal in Ohio, but it’s right around the corner. Don’t use an offshore or illegal betting site. Wait for legalization for a more secure betting experience and better wagering betting lines.

Ohio Gambling FAQs

How old do I need to be to gamble in Ohio?

Right now, you have to be 21 years of age or older to participate in any gambling activities in Ohio with the exception of daily fantasy sports, which technically doesn’t count as gambling, anyway. For that, you have to be 18 years of age or older.

Once sports betting launches, you’ll likely need to be 21 years of age or older to enjoy those activities as well.

Who regulates gambling in Ohio?

Right now, the Ohio Casino Control Commission is in charge of regulating the retail casinos, the racinos, and the licensed operators of daily fantasy sports platforms. This is unlikely to change even when sports betting is legalized, and indeed the OCCC may be chosen to regulate this future industry when all is said and done.

Who owns the casinos in Ohio?

Each of the casinos in Ohio is owned by major operators that have gambling institutions in other states alongside Ohio. Penn National Gaming owns both of the Hollywood Casinos, while Hard Rock International owns the titular Hard Rock Casino. JACK Entertainment owns JACK Cleveland Casino.

Is DraftKings legal in Ohio?

Yes, but only for offering daily fantasy sports. It is not yet legal for this operator to provide sports betting in any capacity. But because it already has a mobile app on the phones of many Ohio residents, this operator will likely get licensure quickly after legal sports betting launches.

Is FanDuel legal in Ohio?

Just like DraftKings, FanDuel is only legally providing daily fantasy sports at this time. But it’ll likely be among the first sportsbooks to get licensure when the industry launches.

About the Author

Amber Hoffman

Amber Hoffman is Executive Editor of OhioSharp.com. A recovering attorney, she's spent almost a decade developing and managing websites and writing for a variety of industries including food, lifestyle, and sports sites.