Ohio residents have access to several excellent casino options around the state.
Gamblers have four traditional casinos in the state’s biggest cities to choose from. That’s on top of seven racinos that add horse racing into the mix.
Real money online casinos are not legal in Ohio, but that should eventually change. Ohio lawmakers continue to explore gambling expansion, which could bring online casinos to Ohio in the near future following the lead of sports betting, which launched Jan. 1, 2023.
In the meantime, social and sweepstakes sites allow Ohio residents can play casino games online. Sweepstakes sites offer a chance to win real money, even though they do not quite stand up to the full casino experience.
Let’s take a look at the different casino options available to Ohio gamblers, both in person and online.
Top sweepstakes and casino sites in Ohio
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Are online casinos legal in Ohio?
No. Ohio law currently forbids online casinos. That means for the time being, Ohioans who wish to play casino games online only have a couple of choices.
One option is to travel to a neighboring state that has legal real money online casinos. Three states bordering Ohio have legal online gambling: Michigan, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. The Hoosier State is also seriously considering adding regulated Indiana online casinos.
A second option for Ohioans is to play games at one of the online social and sweepstakes casinos in Ohio. These sites allow users to play online slots and video versions of table games that use virtual currencies rather than real money. In some cases, the sites also offer opportunities for players to redeem their winnings for cash prizes.
Top sweepstakes and social casinos in Ohio
There are several popular social and sweepstakes casinos that accept players from Ohio.
Pulsz is a fast-growing social casino with a large library of 200 slots titles from which to choose. The site additionally offers a few table games, including blackjack, roulette and baccarat.
Chumba Casino is one of the country’s most popular social and sweepstakes sites, with over 80 casino games. Most are slots, but you’ll also find blackjack, roulette and video poker.
As the name suggests, LuckyLand Slots is all about slot action with more than 40 different slots games. The site also offers instant-win scratchers and keno-like games, giving players additional ways to win.
Funzpoints is a relatively new social and sweepstakes site featuring around 50 different slots titles plus one keno game.
The prospects for legal online casinos in Ohio
While it is doubtful Ohio will legalize online casinos in the immedaite future, there always remains a possibility it could happen. In fact, the recent legalization of sports betting has perhaps brought the state a step closer to authorizing other types of gambling, including online casinos.
The state’s new sports betting law not only allows retail sportsbooks but also authorizes online sports wagering. The new law will allow as many as 25 online sportsbooks in Ohio. Now that sports betting is live, Ohioans will will quickly grow accustomed to being able to gamble legally online, at least to wager on sports.
Ohio currently does allow a few forms of online gambling. The state permits advance deposit wagering on horse racing via online sites. Ohio also explicitly legalized daily fantasy sports in 2018, providing yet another legal way for Ohioans to gamble online.
As noted, three states that border Ohio already have legal online gambling (Michigan, Pennsylvania and West Virginia), including online casinos. Indiana, Michigan, Pennsylvania and West Virginia all allow online sports betting. Ohio legislators with a mind toward legalizing online casinos are certainly watching those states closely to see what sort of revenue online gambling brings.
While the prospects for online casinos becoming legal in Ohio aren’t necessarily bright at present, those prospects could well improve sooner than later.
Retail casinos in Ohio
In 2009, Ohio voters approved a constitutional amendment to authorize land-based casino gambling.
The proposal passed with 52.9% of voters approving it. The following year, the Ohio legislature worked out the framework for those businesses. In May 2012, the Ohio Casino Control Commission gave final approval for the state’s first such property, the Horseshoe Casino Cleveland (now known as JACK Cleveland Casino). Over the following year, three more casinos followed.
All four of these properties reside in the state’s biggest cities:
In other states, restrictions compel casinos to operate on tribal lands or water. In Ohio, the state’s casinos are all in very favorable locations. As a result, the casinos are well positioned not only to turn a profit but also to maximize their benefit to the state through taxes.
JACK Casino Cleveland has already announced that its retail sportsbook will open sometime in November, more than a month ahead of the sports betting start date. The three other retail casinos are also adding sportsbooks.
Ohio is also home to seven racetracks that host a casino on site. These racinos generally have limits on the types of gambling they are allowed. Racinos showcase video lottery terminals, or VLTs, rather than traditional slot machines. Racinos report VLT revenue to the Ohio Lottery and as such are not overseen by the OCCC.
What games can be found at Ohio casinos?
The state’s four casinos each offer a wide menu of ways to play.
At those four properties, you can try your luck at slots, live poker and table games with live dealers. Examples of table games include baccarat, blackjack, craps, and roulette.
The state’s seven racinos also offer certain types of casino gambling as well. However, the state has restricted the racinos to slots (VLTs) and video versions of table games. The VLTs look and act (and sometimes sound) just like a typical slot machine. You won’t find live dealer table games or poker rooms at any of the racinos. They also offer live and simulcast horse racing, with pari-mutuel wagering.
Sports betting is legal in Ohio as of Jan. 1, 2023, and each of the state’s four casinos have retail sportsbooks, branded by the following operators:
- Jack Cleveland Casino (betJACK)
- Hollywood Casino Toledo (Barstool Sportsbook)
- Hollywood Casino Columbus (Barstool Sportsbook)
- Hard Rock Casino Cincinnati (Hard Rock Sportsbook)
Do Ohio casinos have hotels?
While none of them have hotels yet, all four of Ohio’s casinos have partner hotels on their websites, some of which have shuttle services.
In addition, Hollywood Casino in Columbus recently announced it will be adding a hotel. Penn Entertainment estimated a $100 million cost for the project, which will include 180 rooms and new food and beverage options. The attached hotel should provide 100 permanent new jobs, along with hundreds of temporary construction jobs.
Construction is expected to begin in late 2023.
Ohio casinos and racinos
As noted, Ohio is home to four retail casinos, spread out in four of the state’s most populous cities. No matter where in the state you live, you should be within a two-hour drive of at least one of the facilities. Also within a short drive of those major population centers are the seven racinos which as mentioned offer some casino games in addition to pari-mutuel wagering.
The four casinos are:
- Hard Rock Casino Cincinnati: 1000 Broadway St, Cincinnati, 45202
- Hollywood Casino Columbus: 200 Georgesvilles Rd, Columbus, 43228
- Hollywood Casino Toledo: 1968 Miami St, Toledo, 43605
- JACK Casino Cleveland: 100 Public Sq, Cleveland, 44113
The seven racinos are:
- Belterra Park: 6301 Kellogg Rd, Cincinnati 45230
- Hollywood Gaming at Dayton Raceway: 777 Hollywood Blvd, Dayton, 45414
- Hollywood Gaming at Mahoning Valley Race Course: 655 N Canfield Niles Rd, Youngstown, 44515
- JACK Thistledown Racino: 21505 Emery Rd, North Randall, 44128
- MGM Northfield Park: 10777 Northfield Rd, Northfield, 44067
- Miami Valley Gaming: 6000 OH-3, Lebanon, 45036
- Scioto Downs: 6000 S High St, Columbus, 43207
History of Ohio casinos
The story of casinos in Ohio is quite short in comparison to the same industry in other states. That’s because the first properties just opened in 2012.
Casino gambling was illegal in Ohio until 2009 when voters narrowly approved a constitutional amendment to change that. That amendment authorized four land-based gambling properties in Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, and Toledo. The measure also stated all of the state’s counties would share in the tax revenue.
In June 2010, then-Gov. Ted Strickland signed HB 519. That bill created all the regulatory frameworks for casino gaming in the state, including the creation of the Ohio Casino Control Commission. Casinos pay a tax rate of 33% on all gross gaming revenue. Of that total, 51% goes to the state’s 88 counties based on their populations. Another 34% gets spread out among the state’s public school districts equally.
On May 14, 2012, Horseshoe Casino Cleveland opened its doors to the public. The other three casinos opened over the following year with all of them also bearing the Horseshoe branding under the operation of Caesars Entertainment.
As those casinos were opening their doors, racetrack owners pushed for expanded gaming at their properties. Late in 2012, they got their wish from the state legislature. Over the course of early and mid-2013, the seven tracks in the state converted into racinos.
Early in 2019, the branding at the four casinos changed. The properties in Cincinnati and Cleveland became JACK properties as part of a takeover by Rock Gaming, which names Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert as its chairman. Meanwhile the facilities in Columbus and Toledo took on the Hollywood brand, still under Caesars’ watch. Within months, the JACK Casino in Cincinnati is purchased and rebranded as the Hard Rock Casino Cincinnati – the name that the property retains to this day.
As discussed above, whether the introduction of sports betting will lead to Ohio online casinos is a bit of conjecture, of course. However, once lawmakers and citizens see what sort of revenue sports betting can add, other gambling expansion could well follow.
Ohio responsible gambling resources
Ohio is rich in resources supporting responsible gambling:
- Ohio Lottery Commission: Provides the ‘Play Responsibly’ initiative, offering treatment programs, facts, and warning sign resources. Features the Ohio Voluntary Exclusion Program.
- Ohio for Responsible Gambling: A collective effort promoting responsible gambling tips, warning sign information, and treatment options for affected individuals.
- Ohio Casino Control Commission: The regulatory body offering resources like the Voluntary Exclusion Program, mental health resources, treatment facilities information, a self-assessment questionnaire, and helpline contacts.
- Problem Gambling Network of Ohio: A nonprofit affiliated with the National Council on Problem Gambling, advocating for responsible gambling, offering treatment services, and hosting webinars and seminars for professionals in the field.