What was once a bit of a gambler’s wasteland outside of horse racing tracks has become a virtual punter’s dream, with a mix of casinos on Native American land, more casino outlets in the state’s biggest cities and racinos dotted throughout Ohio. And so today, befitting its stature as America’s 7th-most populous state.
More astounding is the fact that essentially all of Ohio’s current large-scale gaming venues were established in 2009 or later. Even the racinos were merely race tracks before casion-style gambling was legalized in the late 2000s. But no matter – play ‘em if you got ‘em, as they say, and Ohio certainly has got ‘em…
Population: 11.6 million (2015 est.)
Area: 44,825 sq. mi.
Gambling Age (Casinos): 21
Gambling Age (Lottery): 18
Number of Casinos: 11
• Wearing women’s patent leather shoes is illegal in Ohio.
• In August 1914, the world’s first electric traffic light was installed in Clveland.
• Among the historically notable people born and/or raised in Ohio are The Wright Brothers, Thomas Edison, Steven Spielberg, Paul Newman, Annie Oakley, Clark Gable and a certain baseball superstar who will be discussed later.
This section might be more appropriately entitled “The History of Not Gambling in Ohio”: As far back as 1790, gambling was illegal in Ohio and, barring a couple of exceptions, was fairly well illegal in all its forms until 1975.
Thirteen years before Ohio entered into statehood, territorial laws imposed fines on gamblers as of 1790. Naturally, this law was exceedingly difficult to enforce, given the (relatively) large area of the territory. Thus were vigilantes and bounty hunters often employed by various local and territorial government interests to find violators of the law, fine them, and collect the resultant monies earned. What the practice gave rise to were yarns about bounty hunters finding a gambling spot, losing a hefty sum, followed by impounding of all the host’s (i.e. illegal gambler’s) money and thus netting a fat profit.
Illegal gambling was the sole sort to be found in Ohio, also a home to riverboat gamblers, until the lottery craze of the 19th century. These numbers games were quite popular in Ohio, as in many states – and, like many states, made these games illegal after the Civil War.
Gambling law in Ohio wouldn’t loosen up again until 1933 when – again following the lead of many of its fellow states – pari-mutuel betting on horse races was legalized in hopes of generating some cash during the Depression years. Following trends further, Oho lawmakers got on the state lottery train in 1973 and only in ’75 were charity bingo and raffles allowed to be held in Ohio.
Whereas Native American tribes in more than half the states immediately leveraged a state-level bingo law in tandem with the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988 to establish large-scale bingo halls-cum-casinos, no such gaming houses would take root in Ohio until the 2010s.
The Native American communities now hosting and operating casinos in Ohio were likely spurred on to establish their own places by a 2009 law which allowed for the licensure of four casinos in the state, one each to be located in Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus and Toledo; all of these original four remain open today.
Beyond the original four casinos in Ohio (Jack’s Casinos in Cincinnati and Cleveland; the Hollywood Casino in Columbus and Toledo) are the Belterra Park Casino & Entertainment Center in Anderson; the Hard Rock Rocksino (I know, I know) in Northfield; and Miami Valley Gaming in Turtlecreek.
In addition, four racinos – horse tracks now outfitted with simulcast racing and thousands of casino games each – are open for business in columbus, Dayton, Austintown and North Randall.
Ohio follows America’s lead in so many areas, so why not gambling as wel? For casinos in Ohio, one must be 21 years old at minimum to enter. To participate in all other forms of legal gambling in the state, just be 18.
He most famous Ohio gambler gotta be the guy who loved gambling so much, he threw away his career in the sport he loved and his near-immortality in the sport just so he could gamble some more. We’re talking about Pete Rose here, the legendary Cincinnati Reds infielder who would certainly be in the Baseball Hall of Fame were it not for his gambling career.
And if you’re not quite clear on what Rose’s connection to gambling while he was a player and/or manager, It’s only because the man continuously changes his story. Rose outright denied that he’d ever done anything more than visit the horse track and bet on the ponies right through 1989 and a meeting with the commissioner of Major League Baseball at that time, Peter Ueberroth. Rose had been retired as a player for 2½ years during that time, but was in ’89 a manager for his beloved Cincinnati Reds.
Nevertheless, apparently the proof Ueberroth had that Rose had bet on baseball while playing and/or managing in the MLB was enough to suspend Rose from participation in Major League Baseball for life. In 2002, an associate stated in an interview that Rose had “probably” bet *against the Reds while he was managing them.* Naturally, Rose denied this, soon thereafter begrudgingly admitting that he’d bet on baseball while he was a player but never on games in which he was involved.
But. Five years later, in 2007, Rose told ESPN Radio that “I bet on my team every night.” This was also found to be untrue and et cetera et cetera. Too bad you couldn’t keep it under control, Pete; on the other hand, I catch you on FOX Sports and you don’t seem that unhappy after all…
Ohio gambling law is, in the 2010s, pretty standard stuff for the U.S. – but you proably figured we were going to write that.
Current gambling laws in Ohio account for the legal playing of casino games on Indian reservation and the four outlets licensed by the state. In addition to pari-mutuel betting on the races at the state’s horse tracks, wagering on simulcast races at these facilities is also legally permitted. Many of the casinos in Ohio provide poker rooms, a final legal amenity added in the 2000s.
With the Ohio casino industry seemingly running at full capactty and the state showing no signs of licensing casinos in say, Dayton or Akron, the only concern gambling aficionados might have is whether the list of Ohio casinos might shrink in the near future.
Three of the four casino not on Native American land posted decreasing revenues for 2016 and the first quarter of ’17. Though not statistically significant in most cases, the figures have triggered whispers that perhaps the gambling industry in Ohio is set for contraction.