When Will Ohio Legalize Online Casinos?

Written By Jake Garza on October 4, 2022
Online casinos are the next step for Ohio's gambling market after sports betting

Online casinos are the natural next step for Ohio’s gambling market. Adding them to the state’s lineup would be mutually beneficial for both gamblers and the state.

Ohio residents already have access to plenty of gambling options.

Casinos, lottery tickets and horse track betting are all available to Ohioans of legal age. Sports betting will add to the list of options when it finally begins next year.

However, online casinos in Ohio could take the state’s industry to a new level.

Ohio’s neighbors are already ahead when it comes to iGaming. If the Buckeye State doesn’t move quickly, it will risk lagging behind even further when it comes to legal gambling options.

The case for online casinos in Ohio

Despite Ohio being one of the most populated states in the U.S., it has been incredibly slow to embrace new forms of gambling.

Ohio didn’t open its first retail casino until 2012. That put it years behind schedule compared to most casino states in the country.

Ohio is running late for the sports betting party, too. Legal betting begins in 2023, but that still leaves the state years behind other markets.

Internet casinos are the one thing missing from Ohio’s gambling lineup.

Only a handful of states currently have legal iGaming, so getting in on the action early would put Ohio at the front of the gambling pack for once.

Pennsylvania iGaming is a huge success

Ohio’s eastern neighbor serves as a prime example for the benefits of legalizing online casinos.

Pennsylvania first dipped its toes into the iGaming waters back in 2019. The state has been reaping the enormous benefits of the industry ever since.

Online casinos are vastly more profitable than sports betting, even in a state like Pennsylvania, which has one of the highest tax rates in the country.

Pennsylvania’s online casinos generated over $1.2 billion in revenue during the 2021-22 recent fiscal year, a 37% increase over the previous year. That led to over $300 million in tax dollars flowing into the state.

That’s an incredible amount of money compared to Indiana’s $114 million tax haul from sports betting during the same timeframe.

If Ohio legalizes online casinos it will be in a similar situation compared to Pennsylvania.

Ohio could generate up to $50 million in annual sports betting taxes, and the haul from online casinos would likely dwarf those numbers.

Indiana online casinos coming soon?

Indiana has been working toward online casinos for a few years now. The Hoosier State has had legal sports betting since 2019 but has been slow to adapt the iGaming side of the gambling business.

That could be changing in the near future. Lawmakers will take another shot at legalizing internet casinos in early 2023.

A new study from Indiana regulators sheds some light on the state’s casino potential.

Indiana could generate over $800 million worth of revenue every year from iGaming. Depending on the potential tax rate, that could lead to over $370 million per year in taxes from online casinos.

Ohio is potentially leaving hundreds of millions of dollars on the table per year by not legalizing online casinos of its own. If the state doesn’t move in that direction soon, it will once again end up sandwiched between two states that did not wait to get the ball rolling.

Ohio has the chance to be a leader instead of a follower in the industry, but lawmakers will have to act fast to make it happen.

Ohio online casinos could be tough sell for 2023

The Ohio General Assembly will meet on Jan. 2, 2023. That will kick off the year’s sessions for Ohio’s House of Representatives and Senate.

Despite a fresh start on the calendar, it might be difficult for lawmakers to legalize online casinos next year.

Gov. Mike DeWine signed Ohio’s sports betting bill into law back in December 2021. By the start of the next session, it will have been over a year since Ohio’s latest gambling expansion.

However, the General Assembly’s Jan. 2  meeting is only one day after the start of sports betting in the state.

In other words, the industry will still be brand new in the eyes of lawmakers. That could make an iGaming push more difficult to pull off.

The success of sports betting in the state could serve as great motivation for Ohio lawmakers to take things a step further, but that will take some time and could ultimately push online casino hopes into 2024 or beyond.

Plus, gambling expansion is usually a tough sell in conservative states. Republicans currently hold the majority in Ohio’s House and Senate, in addition to the state having a Republican governor.

Some of these things could change after the Ohio’s elections this November, but it’s far too early to know how that might alter the state’s chances for online casino.

Legalizing iGaming in Ohio might be tough in 2023, but that’s not to say that there isn’t any hope.

If Ohio lawmakers want the state to serve as an industry leader, then they could end up pushing harder for online casinos next year. It might be an uphill battle, but if Ohio wants to learn from the gambling mistakes of its neighbors, then online casinos will become the natural next step for Ohio after legal sports betting.

Photo by playohio.com
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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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