Ohio is trying to catch up to its neighbors in legalizing sports betting within the state.
Many residents in Ohio currently travel to land-based sports books in Pennsylvania and West Virginia to place their bets on the Browns or Cavaliers. But that's about to change, promises Ohio's governor-elect Mike DeWine.
The sports betting industry is "coming to Ohio whether people want it or not," DeWine said. "We need to be there to do it right, the right way."
There are no laws on the books for or against online gambling in Ohio, so many players in the state have chosen to sign up and make their bets with top-ranked offshore sites like Bovada.
Betting Laws in Ohio
Almost 12 million people live in the state of Ohio. Columbus is the capital and largest city with almost 900,000 residents.
Ohio gambling laws are regulated at the state level. The state allows casino gaming in four cities — Columbus, Toledo, Cleveland and Cincinnati — and at several racetracks throughout Ohio called "racinos."
All legalized gambling within Ohio is limited to the following areas:
- Commercial casino gambling
- Horse racing
- Daily fantasy sports
- Social gambling
- Charitable gambling
Legal age limits range from 16 to 21 in the state, depending on the type of legal gaming. The legal age to play bingo is 16. You must be 18 to participate in Keno, the state lottery and horse racing. The legal age to play at casinos is 21.
Casinos were prohibited in Ohio before 2009, so gamblers instead visited establishments in Indiana, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Michigan where they were permitted.
Today, Ohio has 11 casinos and racinos. This includes four stand-alone casinos — the Horseshoe casinos in Cleveland and Cincinnati and the Hollywood casinos in Columbus and Toledo — and seven racetracks with casino gaming.
Some would say that Ohio now has too many casinos, both inside and near the state. Revenues are declining for the four Las Vegas-style casinos. Most of the blame is placed on the proliferation of racinos throughout the state.
Thoroughbred, short quarter horse and harness racing take place throughout the year in Ohio. Thoroughbred tracks include Beulah Park and Thistledown, while harness racing tracks include Northfield Park and Scioto Downs.
The Little Brown Jug, the second leg of the pacing triple crown in harness racing, is held annually in September at the Delaware County Fairgrounds. The race has been contested since 1946.
The state lottery, which is run by the Ohio Lottery Commission, was formed in May 1973.
The Ohio Lottery offers a wide variety of draw games and instant games, plus Keno, at more than 8,500 retail locations across the state. Ohio residents can also play national lottery games Mega Millions and Powerball.
Daily fantasy sports
State legislature signed a bill late in 2017 legalizing paid-entry daily fantasy sports in the state.
More than 57 million people in the U.S. and Canada participate in both daily and season-long fantasy sports. Fantasy sports websites operate contests in two ways: no fees and no prizes for the winners or entry fees and cash prizes for the winners. FanDuel and DraftKings — the two biggest operators — retain a percentage of the fees, depending on what kind of contest it is.
Ohio Sports Betting Laws
With sports betting on Ohio's doorstep, the Ohio legislature has taken the first steps in the form of a placeholder bill to begin the process of drafting sports betting legislation, but it has yet to move any further.
"I'm not a big fan of betting, but it is a reality, and Ohio voters have made that decision with the casinos and other things throughout the years, and so it's here," said DeWine, the incoming governor.
Ohio, with a population of more than 11 million, would be a fairly large market for sports betting. The state has a variety of land-based and racetrack casinos, which would be the likely target for sports books.
Ohio also has a lottery, but it’s not clear if it’s going to get involved in wagering. Lotteries have expressed different levels of interest in sports wagering around the country.
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Ohio's Favorite Sports Teams
National Football League
The Cleveland Browns were originally founded in 1945. Owner Art Modell moved the team to Baltimore in 1996. The Browns, since resuming operations in 1999, have had only two winning seasons and one playoff appearance.
The Cincinnati Bengals were founded in 1966 as a member of the American Football League. The Bengals have won nine division titles and two conference championships, but they lost both of their Super Bowl appearances.
National Basketball Association
The Cleveland Cavaliers began play as an expansion team in 1970. The Cavs opened their inaugural season losing their first 15 games and struggled in their early years. Since that time, the team has won seven division titles, five conference championships and one NBA Final, thanks in large part to their No. 1 draft pick in 2003 — LeBron James.
Major League Baseball
Since their establishment as a major league franchise in 1901, the Cleveland Indians have won two World Series championships (1920, 1948), along with 10 Central Division titles and six American League pennants. The Indians' current World Series championship drought is the longest in the game.
The Cincinnati Reds, established in 1881, have won five World Series titles, nine NL pennants and 10 division titles. The Big Red Machine, managed by Sparky Anderson, dominated the National League in the 1970s, which included two World Series titles.
National Hockey League
The Columbus Blue Jackets, founded as an expansion team in 2000, are the only team in the league which has never won a playoff series. The Blue Jackets qualified for the Stanley Cup playoffs for the first time in 2009.