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Ohio Online Poker & Gambling Laws

Ohio Online PokerOhio is a well-known state for poker playing. Many reputable poker players have come from the state of Ohio. The casinos in Ohio hold some major tournaments. This has helped to produce some excellent poker players in Ohio.

Ohio has some strange laws when it comes to poker, though. Being a professional poker player in the state of Ohio is illegal. We are not sure why this is even part of their law code, but we thought that it was interesting.

Can Players From Ohio Play Poker Online?

Yes! Players from Ohio have several options when it comes to playing poker online. There are some US facing sites that do not accept players from Ohio, but the majority of online sites do accept players from Ohio.

Many people are under the misconception that when the federal government handed down indictments in 2011 that all online poker sites stopped accepting players from the United States. This is definitely not the case. Many of the major online poker sites did pull out of the US market. However, some of the best poker sites still accept players from the United States. These sites have a lot of money up for grabs.

Is it Legal to Play Online Poker in Ohio?

We wish that we could answer this question for you, but unfortunately Ohio does not have any statutes that address playing poker online specifically. We have searched the laws pertaining to gambling in Ohio, and we have provided some of these for you to review below:

  • Ohio does not clearly define gambling, instead they define a game of chance as “Game of chance” means poker, craps, roulette, or other game in which a player gives anything of value in the hope of gain, the outcome of which is determined largely by chance (Section 2915.01) [1]
  • The law states that no person shall Establish, promote, or operate or knowingly engage in conduct that facilitates any game of chance conducted for profit or any scheme of chance (Section 2915.02)
  • The law goes on to state that no person shall Engage in betting or in playing any scheme or game of chance as a substantial source of income or livelihood (Section 2915.02)
  • Home poker games seem to be illegal under Ohio laws, but the punishment for participating in a home game seems to be a minor misdemeanor.
  • Charity Poker games are legal with proper licensing.
  • Charity Casino Nights are legal with proper licensing.
  • Charity Bingo Halls are legal in Ohio.
  • We have found no instance where an individual has been charged for playing poker online in Ohio.

This is our lay person understanding of the laws. We are not attorney nor do we claim to be any sort of experts on the laws of Ohio. Please consult an attorney if you are concerned with the legality of playing poker online in Ohio.

Ohio Gambling History

Ohio was a hotspot for illegal gambling in the early 1900s. There was a huge mob presence operating these illegal gambling organizations. The gangster activity in the state of Ohio first began in the 1920s during the prohibition era. The gangsters set up illegal casinos and controlled a lot of the major cities. The illegal activity continued all the way until the 1990s when the federal government finally cracked down on the gangsters. [2]

Pari-mutuel betting on horse races has had a presence in Ohio since the early 1930s. Betting has evolved a lot over the years to include off track betting and simulcast race wagering have been included in the legal forms of wagering.

Aside from pari-mutuel betting on horse races, Ohio didn’t have any new legal gambling until 1973 when voters approved the state lottery. Ohio became the 10th state to have a state lottery. The voters of Ohio approved the new legislation by a 2/3 vote.

It took the state a while to prepare to sell lottery tickets. The first tickets were sold in August of 1974. The lottery provides a lot of revenue for the state. A portion of the revenue is reserved for education in Ohio. In 2002, the Ohio lottery brought in 2 billion dollars. [3]

Around the same time that the lottery was legalized in Ohio charity games were also legalized. Charity bingo and charity casino nights were approved. Of course, the operators of these games have to have the proper licenses to be legal. Charity gambling is a major source of revenue for many nonprofit organizations in Ohio.

It wasn’t until the 1990s that casino legislation was first introduced to the state of Ohio. The residents of Ohio did not approve this legislation for almost 10 years. Ohio now has 4 casinos and 6 Racinos (combination race track and casino).

Legalized Gambling Options in Ohio

Ohio has a variety of legal gambling options. There are 4 casinos around the state, and there are also 6 racinos. Ohio has a state lottery with instant scratch off tickets. Pari-mutuel betting on horse races is a proper pastime. Charity gambling is also legal in Ohio. This includes charity casino nights and bingo halls. You will find bingo halls throughout the state.

Will Ohio Legalize Online Poker in the Future?

Ohio has a history of being very slow to legalize any form of gambling. It took proponents of casinos almost 10 years to get legislation passed. Ohio definitely isn’t the first state to come to mind when you think of gambling states, but they aren’t the most restrictive state when it comes to gambling either. I don’t think that Ohio will make a move to legalize online poker without some sort of federal mandate to legalize it. I think that if there is a federal mandate then Ohio will accept it. There is no indication that Ohio will opt-out of federal legislation. This is just my opinion, though. We will have to wait and see what Ohio decides to do about the online poker issue.

References:

  1. Jump up ^ Ohio Gambling Laws
  2. Jump up ^ Ohio Gangsters
  3. Jump up ^ Ohio Lottery
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