If Ohio legalized online casinos, the tax revenue could help several public programs lacking funding.
Ohio’s neighbor to the north, Michigan, legalized online casino gaming in 2019. The state’s new industry launched at the start of 2021. But the Buckeye State has a slightly larger population and Ohio online sportsbooks generate more revenue with a higher hold percentage.
Furthermore, data from the American Gaming Association suggests Ohioans wager $15.6 billion annually on illegal online casino sites. As a result, PlayOhio estimated online casinos in Ohio could add $125.8 million in new annual tax revenue.
Here’s how Ohio’s public programs could benefit from that money.
New revenue could help Ohio Governor with education funding
One of Gov. Mike DeWine’s top economic priorities is the state education system. He signed a nearly $200 billion budget last July, and education was a main focus of it.
The theoretical $125.8 million in additional funding could put a big dent in school funding.
The budget increases core foundation funding for all public schools, including traditional district and public charter schools. However, many believe even more funding is needed for education and that money needs to go to the correct places.
According to a report from the non-profit policy research institute Policy Matters Ohio, funding disparities have slowed the recovery of Ohio’s public schools following the COVID-19 pandemic.
The report states that state legislators are spending billions on private school tuition vouchers. It suggested that funding would be better spent hiring staff in strategic areas and improving access to college credit courses and other resources.
Online casino revenue could make a big difference in the education sector. There doesn’t ever seem to be enough funding for it. So, why not add another resource to pull funding from?
Online casinos could help boost pension, child care and general revenue fund
Aside from education, Ohio needs funding in several areas.
According to a 2021 report from the American Legislative Exchange Council, Ohio has the fifth-worst unfunded state pension liabilities. It totals $429.5 billion. In other words, each Ohio resident is on the hook for more than $36,000 in unfunded state pension liabilities.
Childcare is another area in Ohio in need of funding. Recently, the federal government ordered Ohio to increase its publicly funded childcare rates by the end of 2024, or the state will incur a penalty.
The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services says it will reevaluate its rate structure to make the necessary changes by the end of 2024. But online casinos could help with this problem right away.
The General Revenue Fund, which makes up 41% of the state’s budget, could also use the extra tax revenue. That money can be used in many ways to help in other need areas like homelessness, infrastructure and assistance for low-income families.
Finally, tax revenue could help the state pay off the massive amount of debt it has. According to the research website Wisevoter, Ohio is $93 billion in debt, the eighth-highest in the country.