Maturation Of Ohio Casino Market Could Pave Way For Online Casinos

Written By C.J. Pierre on November 9, 2023
A picture of chips on a keyboard for a story about how the maturation of the Ohio casino industry could spark lawmakers to legalize online casinos.

Through the first nine months of 2023, Ohio casinos have generated $763.4 million in gross gaming revenue. That’s an average of $84.8 million every month.

Ohio casinos are on pace to have their most profitable year ever in 2023. They are fast becoming some of the state’s most reliable money-makers.

Ohio online casinos remain illegal in the state. However, this consistent flow of tax revenue from retail casinos could provide some added momentum for lawmakers to push legal online casinos across the finish line.

Ohio casinos provide state with a reliable funding source

In 2009, Ohio voters approved a constitutional amendment to authorize land-based casino gambling. The first Ohio casino started taking bets in May 2012.

Between 2013 and 2019, annual gross gaming revenue from Ohio casinos hovered between $700-$800 million. That revenue took a dramatic dip in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, once folks started returning to those properties in 2021, Ohio casinos provided the state with a consistent revenue stream.

Ohio casino gross gaming revenue from 2021-2023 (so far)

Casino2021 GGR2022 GGR2023 GGR (January-September)
Hollywood Casino Columbus$259,963,250$263,619,329$204,913,985
Jack Cleveland Casino$257,412,609$262,377,836$200,799,076
Hard Rock Casino Cincinnati$228,934,829$251,491,881$188,602,233
Hollywood Casino Toledo$237,400,552$227,711,833$169,130,221
STATEWIDE TOTAL$983,711,240$1,005,200,879$763,445,515

Numbers from January 2021 through September 2023

In 2021, Ohio casinos brought in over $983.7 million in gross gaming revenue (GGR). That was a 15.6% increase over 2019 GGR ($850.9 million). Annual GGR from Ohio casinos increased in 2022 to over $1 billion and looks set to be even more in 2023.

This past September marked the 10th consecutive month that Ohio casinos generated at least $80 million in GGR. The last time they didn’t reach that mark was in November 2022, when they reported revenue of $78.6 million. Not that far off. In fact, the state’s casinos have brought in at least $80 million in 18 of the last 19 months.

If this trend continues, Ohio is looking to get at least $1 billion every year from casino revenue. Ohio also has seven racinos showcasing video lottery terminals (VLTs). Racinos report VLT revenue to the Ohio Lottery.

Ohio continues to leave money on the table by not legalizing online casinos

The state taxes Ohio casinos 33% of gross casino revenue. The state then disburses the tax revenue to the County Fund, the Student Fund, the Host City Fund, the Law Enforcement Training Fund and the Problem Gambling and Addictions Fund. The Ohio State Racing Commission and the Ohio Casino Control Commission also get 3% each.

From revenue generated in 2021 and 2022, the OCCC distributed over $557.5 million to these different causes. These numbers don’t include the $125 million-plus Ohio is missing out on in annual taxes by not legalizing online casinos.

In 2022, $125.9 million of casino revenue went to counties’ undivided local government fund. That money is distributed to Ohio’s 88 counties before being distributed within each county’s eligible subdivisions: municipalities, special districts, townships and county government.

There is practically the same amount of money sitting there from legal online casinos. That money could go toward Ohio’s $429.5 billion in unfunded state pension liabilities, which are the fifth worst in the country. It could also go toward Ohio’s General Revenue Fund, which comprises 41% of the state’s budget. That money can be used in many ways to help in other needy areas like homelessness, infrastructure and assistance for low-income families.

There is clear proof that casino gaming is a cash cow for Ohio … but there is still more meat on the bone.

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C.J. Pierre

C.J. Pierre is a Lead Writer at PlayOhio. He has been covering news and sports for over a decade for both online and TV broadcasts. He was born and raised in Minneapolis, MN and is an alum of Minnesota State University: Moorhead. He recently dove into tribal casino, sports betting and online gambling news. He also covered the launch of sports betting in Arizona. C.J. has experience as a reporter and videographer and has covered high school, college and professional sports throughout his career, most notably following Arizona Cardinals, Phoenix Suns, Minnesota Vikings and North Dakota State University football.

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