The Ohio gambling industry continues to grow and expand. Just eight years ago, there were no casinos at all in the Buckeye State.
Now there are four casinos and seven racinos. The years of Ohio gamblers funneling into casinos in Indiana and Michigan came to an end. But history seems to be repeating itself.
Four of the five states bordering Ohio have an active sports betting industry. The lone exception is Kentucky, which has been considering its own legislation in recent years. As Ohio tries to keep up with surrounding states, the state legislators in Columbus are currently considering a bill to legalize online and retail sportsbooks to keep those Ohio gamblers in Ohio.
There are two kinds of gambling properties in Ohio. Four are your standard casinos. These offer the standard amenities you would find at a Vegas casino, including slots, table games, and poker rooms. Those for properties are:
The other group are racinos. These properties are connected to horse racing facilities that offer a range of both thoroughbred and harness racing on site. Unlike the four casino properties, these racinos do not offer table games. Instead, the only casino gambling available is on what are called video lottery terminals. Don’t let the fancy name fool you. These are just another word for slot machines.
The seven racino properties are:
Betting on horse racing in the state may be legal in Ohio, but betting on sports remains outlawed. That could change by the end of the year, thanks to a legislative effort to bring online sports betting to Ohio.
In the spring of 2019, two dueling sports betting bills were introduced in the Ohio House and Senate. In September of 2020, the sponsors of the bills came together and got on the same page with a substitute bill.
The substitute bill will take the place of H194, which passed the House in May. House sports betting legislation sponsors Dave Greenspan and Brigid Kelly came together with Senate sponsors John Eklund and Sean O’Brien to reach a compromise on the differences between their bills.
Key points of the substitute bill include:
Eklund was careful to point out that the language agreed upon by the sponsors is still a starting point for the final legislation.
The next step is a committee hearing in the Senate, where they’ll find out if industry leaders and legislative colleagues want any further changes.
Eklund said he would like to have a committee hearing before the election. H 194 has yet to be assigned to a Senate committee, though it is expected to follow in the footsteps of the Senate sports betting bill and go to the General Government and Agency Review Committee.
Sen. William Conley, a former president of the National Council of Legislators from Gaming States, said he plans to propose an amendment for the bill that includes authorization of internet lottery.
With the sponsors on the same page and Gov. Mike DeWine public in his support of legalizing sports betting, there appears to be a good chance for the bill to become law before the end of 2020. But time is running out. The bill will need to pass during the lame-duck session when the legislature returns in mid-November.
As we mentioned, Kentucky is the only Ohio neighbor without a sports betting industry. Here’s a look at how the surrounding markets are faring so far and what Ohio will be competing with should it legalize and launch sports betting.
In less than a year of operation, Indiana sportsbooks have already brought in over $1 billion in wagers in the Hoosier State. The industry is the oldest in the Midwest, with retail sportsbooks taking the first bets in September 2019. Thanks to a gaming commission willing to experiment with betting options, Indiana betting apps offer odds on non-sporting events like the Academy Awards, professional sports drafts, and even the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest.
Retail sportsbooks: 11
Online betting apps: Eight
Launch date: September 2019
Tax rate: 9.5%
Michigan sports betting is still in its infancy. The Detroit commercial casinos just started taking retail wagers in March 2020, but COVID-19 quickly shut the industry down. Now that things are reopening, the Detroit books are back in action, as are a handful of tribal casino sportsbooks. The next step is the launch of online betting apps, which should happen sometime in the fall.
Retail sportsbooks: Six
Online sportsbooks: None
Launch date: March 2020
Tax rate: 8.4% plus 1.5% additional for Detroit casinos
Pennsylvania is one of the largest and healthiest sports betting industries in the US. The Keystone State is thriving despite major concerns about its hefty $10 million upfront licensing fee and substantial 36% tax rate. Nonetheless, 12 of 13 casinos opted to pay for the license. Of those, 10 are operational with both retail and online offerings, with two more on the way. After launching retail betting in late 2018, the state has produced over $2.5 billion in bets, nearly $150 million in revenue for the casinos, and over $50 million in tax revenue for the state.
Retail sportsbooks: 12
Online sportsbooks: Nine
Launch date: November 2018
Tax rate: 36%
West Virginia is the only state with a lottery-regulated sports betting industry. However, the state’s casinos are the ones the West Virginia Lottery licenses to offer online and retail sports betting. After a problematic launch with BetLucky in December 2018, sports betting shut down in March 2019. It was only in August 2019 that DraftKings and FanDuel entered the state and started offering online betting. Since then, the state has turned into a small but stable sports betting industry.
Retail sportsbooks: Seven
Online sportsbooks: Three
Launch date: December 2018
Tax rate: 10%