Ohio Casinos

Ohio Casinos

If you’re not from Ohio, you might not think of the Buckeye State as being a destination for those who enjoy casinos. But there are four popular retail casinos in the state, plus seven more racinos that also offer gambling options.

Ohio’s casinos and racinos are on pace for a record year after posting $201.5 million in May revenue. They also posted a strong April with $215.6 million.

Although real money online casinos are not legal in the state, there are social and sweepstakes sites where Ohioans can play casino games online.

Ohio lawmakers continue to explore gambling expansion, and online gambling could be added at some point down the road. Until then, let’s take a look at the different casino options available to Ohio gamblers, both in person and online.

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. There are three states bordering Ohio that have legal online gambling: Michigan, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

A second option 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

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

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.

LuckyLand Slots

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

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 near 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 has provided for as many as 25 online sportsbooks in Ohio, which means once sports betting goes live in 2023, Ohioans 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, including online casinos. Indiana likewise allows 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:

  • Columbus
  • Cleveland
  • Cincinnati
  • Toledo

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.

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.

None of the casinos or racinos have retail sportsbooks, but that is about to change. Sports betting is now legal in Ohio, and regulators are working on launching it for online and retail locations soon.

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.