Ohio Gaming Commission Could Offer Regulatory Solution For Ohio Gambling

Written By TJ McBride on April 24, 2024
Ohio Gaming Commission

Now that the Ohio sports betting industry exists, in addition to sports betting kiosks, racinos, and casinos, responsible gambling has never been more important. Many Ohio gambling industry stakeholders reminded the state of such importance last week as Ohio began receiving testimonies and requests pertaining to Ohio’s current gambling landscape and its future.

One particular request, put forward in testimony from the Problem Gambling Network of Ohio, wants the state to create a single entity with regulatory control over the entire Ohio gaming industry.

Problem Gambling Network of Ohio wants one agency handling all gambling regulation

The state of Ohio began receiving testimonies from gambling industry stakeholders last week, hearing much discussion about the possibility of an Ohio online casino market and whether Ohio racinos should be allowed to host table games on their gaming floors. Stakeholders also had something to say about responsible gambling practices and regulations. 

Executive Director Derek Longmeier wasted no time laying out requests in submitted testimony from the Problem Gambling Network of Ohio.

In the testimony, Longmeier detailed Ohio’s current state of affairs, directly requesting the state hand all gaming authority to a single regulatory agency.

Longmeier wrote:

“I am writing to request for consideration the consolidation of regulatory authority under a single entity, the State Gaming Commission, which would oversee all aspects of gaming within Ohio. Additionally, we request the alignment of Ohio’s gaming laws to ensure consistency and transparency for all Ohio consumers.”

“First, we ask that you consider streamlining regulation through the creation of the Ohio Gaming Commission. This would result in re-appropriating regulatory responsibilities currently with the Attorney General’s Office, Division of Charitable Gaming and the Ohio State Racing Commission.”

Ohio would not be alone in this. Massachusetts also has put all gaming regulations under one entity, through the creation of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission. While it does not include the lottery, the Colorado Division of Gaming has taken a similar approach by regulating sports betting, casino wagering, and fantasy games in the state.

PGNO requests electronic bingo be 21+

The requests did not stop there. Longmeier also requested a change to the age requirement for electronic bingo machines.

“Lastly, we request increasing the minimum age for instant electronic bingo to 21 to match other electronic gaming machines, such as slot machines and video lottery terminals. This age requirement helps to protect young adults from the potential risks associated with gambling.”

According to Longmeier’s testimony, these are essential changes to keeping the Ohio gambling market operating with integrity.

“In conclusion we urge the Study Commission on the Future of Gaming in Ohio to prioritize the alignment of gaming laws including helpline requirements dedicated funds, and the minimum age requirement to 21, as well as establish the State Gaming Commission to oversee all aspects of gambling regulation. These measures are essential to promote responsible gaming practices, protect vulnerable populations, and uphold the integrity of gaming in Ohio.”

Interested parties offer Ohio responsible gambling testimony

Other stakeholders also set aside part of their testimony to discuss the future of responsible gambling in Ohio

Corey Jordan, the Director of Policy and Legislation for Attorney General Dave Yost, made it clear that any discussion about the future of Ohio gaming needs to include responsible gambling influence.

“No discussion on the future of gaming in Ohio is complete without due consideration to deterrence of addictive or otherwise detrimental behaviors in users of gaming products.”

MGM Northfield Park also included responsible gambling thoughts in its submitted testimony written by Rick Limardo, the Senior Vice President of Government Affairs for MGM Resorts International.

“MGM continues to prove that we are suitable for the privilege of holding a gaming license. We take that privilege very seriously and are grateful to our partners at the lottery, racing commission, and casino control with whom we work closely on a daily basis. Our gaming license in any jurisdiction is dependent not only on the integrity with which we operate in that market, but in all markets. As a company with over 25 destination resorts in the United States alone, we have billions of dollars of investment that depend on our ability to conduct our business consistent with the strongest regulatory and responsible gaming standards to which we are subject.”

Dialogue continues concerning Ohio online casino legislation

Online casinos are a big topic of conversation in most states, regardless of whether it’s legal there or not. Ohio stakeholders also have their own thoughts on Ohio online casinos, and many made their perspectives known through these testimonies. 

Within MGM’s testimony that was written by Limardo, it clearly stated its desire for an Ohio online casino market.

“I would also like to express our support for iGaming. Based on our operational experience in New Jersey and Michigan, where iGaming is offered, we have observed that there are complementary synergies between our retail casino properties and iGaming. These synergies have not only enhanced the customer experience, but have also contributed to the growth of our business in both areas.”

Naturally, PENN Entertainment also voiced its support through its own submitted testimony.

There was opposition to iGaming as well. JACK Entertainment owns a casino and racino in Ohio and opposes online casino expansion out of fear it will cut into its own market share. It outlined this worry in its testimony written by Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Daniel Reinhard.

“iGaming as presented to this Commission will not bolster Ohio’s gaming climate or benefit Ohioans. The proposal is flawed under the Ohio Constitution and Ohio court decisions. Ohioans can observe their local malls to understand the impact that iGaming will have on local economies. Just like online retail has decimated local retail, iGaming will do the same under any logical scenario. iGaming will damage Ohio businesses and cost Ohio jobs leading to diminished capital investment and degradation of Ohio’s existing tax base.”

It is unlikely that iGaming legislation will be put forward this year. Regardless, there’s still progress being made toward a legal Ohio online casino market. State Rep. Jay Edwards spoke to PlayUSA about this process being about education and beginning a dialogue.

Edwards said:

“What we’re trying to do is start the conversation, get best practices, educate members and allow regulators some input on the process so that when we are ready, we can start to implement that.”

Photo by Dreamstime / PlayOhio
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TJ McBride

T.J. McBride is a Denver-based writer and reporter who covers sports betting for PlayOhio. His work has been featured on ESPN, CBS Sports, FiveThirtyEight, Bleacher Report and Yahoo Sports, among others.

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