Legal Online Casinos Are The Next Step For Ohio’s Gambling Market

Written By Jake Garza on January 9, 2023
Now that sports betting is legal in Ohio, online casinos are the natural next step for the state

Ohio residents have all sorts of gambling options to pick from now that sports betting is available in the state. The only thing missing from the lineup is online casinos.

Legal online casinos in Ohio would let residents play classic games like blackjack, roulette and slot machines from their homes. Some states even add online poker into the mix.

Adding internet casinos is the next evolution for the state’s gambling industry, but legalizing them is probably easier said than done for 2023.

Ohio is usually slow to act on gambling

Traditionally, Ohio is late to the party when it comes to gambling expansion. Neighboring states like Pennsylvania, Michigan and Indiana have all been faster to expand their industries.

For example, it’s been over a decade since Ohio embraced casinos, but Michigan legalized them back in the late 1990s. It’s been a little over a week since sports betting began in Ohio, but Indiana was taking bets over three years ago. Ohio hasn’t even started to legalize online casinos yet, but Pennsylvania opened up its first options back in 2019.

The Buckeye State is routinely behind the rest of the pack when it comes to gambling expansion, but online casinos are a chance to right the ship.

Michigan and Pennsylvania both have legal internet casino industries, but they’re two of the few states in the country that do. Ohio could join that exclusive list if it’s quick to act.

Other states have regretted moving at a snail’s pace in the past, so this is a good opportunity for Ohio to learn from its neighbors.

Internet casinos are incredibly profitable

Online casinos are an incredibly convenient option for casino players in any given state. That rings especially true for gamblers that don’t live near a physical casino.

Internet casinos are incredibly similar to online sports betting. All it takes is a quick second to open an app on your phone or a website on your computer.

Convenience is nice, but states often add online casino industries because of the enormous financial potential.

Let’s use Michigan as an example.

Retail sportsbooks started taking bets in March 2020, and online casinos followed suit in January 2021. Even with sports betting’s head start, online casinos have racked up about $637 million worth of taxes so far, a number that greatly exceeds the $34 million tax haul from sports betting.

The tax revenue disparity is staggering, and a nearly $600 million difference shows just how profitable online casinos have been for Michigan.

Ohio could have a similar level of success if it chooses to legalize internet casinos of its own.

However, the odds aren’t looking great for another round of gambling expansion in the state this year. Ohio residents might have to wait at least another year to get the ball rolling on internet casinos.

Tough outlook for Ohio online casinos in 2023

Online casinos and online poker are the natural next steps for Ohio’s gambling market. They’re the only pieces missing from the industry’s puzzle.

Despite that, Ohio residents will likely have to wait a while before lawmakers tackle legalizing them.

It hasn’t even been two weeks since sports betting began in the state. That part of the industry is still taking its baby steps.

Since Ohio’s latest gambling venture just arrived, lawmakers won’t be eager to jump into another round of immediate expansion. In other words, don’t expect online casinos to become legal during the state’s 2023 legislative session, which begins on Jan. 11.

Residents of the Buckeye State have had to be patient in the past, and that may end up being the case once again for online casinos. Hopefully for gamblers, Ohio will be quicker to act on internet casinos than it has been for other gambling expansions in the past.

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Jake Garza

Jake Garza is a US Gambling Industry Analyst for Catena Media. He specializes in Midwest sports betting and casino content. Prior to covering the legal gambling industry, he spent time as a professional sports writer, reporting on teams such as the Cincinnati Bengals, Indianapolis Colts and Indiana Pacers. Garza is currently working as a Managing Editor for PlayIndiana and PlayOhio, with previous stops at other well-known brands such as PlayIllinois and PlayMichigan. He has been covering the gambling industry since 2019, and currently works with a team of other journalists to provide comprehensive coverage of the legal U.S. gambling industry.

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