Ohioans who have been in the state for a decade or longer will remember what it was like when there were no casinos anywhere in the state.
In the early 2010s, in the span of just a few years and in response to the will of the people, Ohio went from zero to four casinos. In addition, the Buckeye State is home to seven racetracks that also offer casino games, otherwise known as racinos.
The next frontier for Ohio gambling now seems to be online gaming, which might eventually include mobile casinos, poker rooms, and sports betting. When that will happen is still up in the air though.
Several lawmakers in Columbus have made attempts to enact legislation to move things in that direction. There’s significant pressure to do so because four of the five states that border Ohio have legal online gambling options. If and when Ohio does green-light online gaming, it’s a sure thing that the casinos and racinos in the state will be a part of it.
Until such a time, though, folks in Ohio can enjoy all that the brick-and-mortar gambling properties have to offer.
Yes. In 2009, Ohio voters approved a constitutional amendment to authorize land-based casino gaming.
The proposal passed by a 52.9-47.1 margin. The following year, the Ohio legislature worked out the framework for those businesses. And 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.
The unique thing about these facilities is their location. All four properties reside in the state’s biggest cities:
In other states, restrictions compel casinos to operate on tribal lands or water. Their location puts them in a prime position to not only turn a profit but also maximize their benefit to the state through taxes as well.
The state also has seven racinos. There, you can find live and simulcast horse racing, with pari-mutuel wagering.
In addition, the racinos offer some types of casino gaming. The state has restricted that to slots and video versions of table games. You won’t find live dealer table games or poker rooms at any of the seven racinos, but they do offer hundreds of slots and video gaming devices.
The state’s four full-fledged casinos have a wider menu of ways to play.
At those four properties, you can try your luck at live poker, slots, and table games with live dealers. Examples of table games include baccarat, blackjack, craps, and roulette. None of the casinos or racinos have retail sportsbooks, yet. Sports betting remains illegal in Ohio, though the legislature is working on changing that.
Ohio is home to four 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 seven racinos. Those properties offer limited gaming in addition to pari-mutuel wagering.
The four casinos are:
The seven racinos are:
The law forbids online gambling in the Buckeye State.
That could change, as there is a push to legalize it in Columbus. For the time being, Ohioans wishing to play casino games online have a couple of choices: travel to neighboring Michigan or Pennsylvania, or play online sweepstakes casinos in Ohio.
How are these social casinos legal and other casino sites illegal? The difference is that the games on the sweepstakes casinos don’t have consideration elements. In plainer English, that means you don’t have to pay to play.
For that reason, the state doesn’t consider it gambling anymore than entering a raffle contest for a giveaway at an appliance store. On the sites, you can play online slots and video versions of table games for absolutely free with the chance of winning real cash prizes. There are three popular sites that accept players in Ohio.
Chumba Casino operates on two separate currency systems, Gold Coins and Sweeps Coins. You can play the wide menu of jackpot and slots games using either currency.
Gold Coins are available for purchase but you cannot redeem them for real cash prizes. Sweeps Coins are redeemable, but you cannot purchase them. The site does give away Sweeps Coins for taking part in promotions, time spent on the site, logging into your account, and even writing into the company to request them.
The best way to collect Sweeps Coins is by playing disparate and fun games.
As the name suggests, LuckyLand Slots is all about slot action. It also uses the Gold Coins and Sweeps Coins format.
The aesthetics and sounds of the games here are very similar in quality to what you will find at any pay-for-play casino site. There is also a constantly refreshed, wide menu of games to choose from. Some of the titles have progressive jackpots, which have paid out six- and seven-figure Sweeps Coins prizes to players in the past.
The dual-currency system works much the same at Funzpoints. However, they have different names. Standard Funzpoints are the equivalent of Gold Coins, while Premium Funzpoints are the same as Sweeps Coins.
This site does giveaways throughout the day, so even if you aren’t getting any line hits on the game you’re playing, you might still get lucky.
Another unique element of this site is that the maximum wager on all games is just five Funzpoints. That could lead to long durations of playing, but, of course, always play responsibly.
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 gaming 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, the Horseshoe Casino Cleveland opened its doors to the public. The other three casinos, all bearing the Horseshoe branding at that time under the operation of Caesars Entertainment, opened over the following year.
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. The facilities in Columbus and Toledo took on the Hollywood brand, still under Caesars’ watch.