Is Online Sports Betting Legal in Ohio?
Ohio is surrounded by states that have embraced legalized sports betting but as of right now, betting on sports is not legal in Ohio.
Fortunately, there are a few key reasons we’re optimistic that the laws are going to change in the not-too-distant future.
The biggest factors include influential lawmakers coming out on the side of legalized sports betting, a massive potential revenue stream and neighboring states like West Virginia and Pennsylvania already making moves towards regulated sports gambling markets.
In this guide we’ll take a close look at the past and present situations when it comes to Ohio legal sports betting and then we’ll give you our best predictions about what to expect in the future.
Check out our other legal sports betting guides for more information on the laws in each and every US state.
Ohio Sports Betting at a Glance
One big reason we’re optimistic is that over the last decade Ohio has made a lot of big changes when it comes to its gambling laws.
In terms of gambling as a whole, Ohio has quickly gone from a relatively conservative state to having a number of full-service land-based casinos operating in the state.
The change began in 2009 when the state finally voted in favor of allowing casinos. Prior to that time residents were limited to bingo, lottery, a few social poker games and horse racing. The quick success of the state’s four land-based casinos and seven ‘racinos’ will likely play a crucial role in the emerging sports betting industry.
Another reason is that In the wake of the US Supreme Court’s 2018 decision to repeal the federal ban on sports betting, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine has all but said that legalization is coming to the Buckeye State. More on that in the next section.
The Current Online Sports Betting Situation in Ohio
Right now sports betting is still not legal in Ohio but 2019 is expected to be a big year that will most likely see the state’s first comprehensive sports gambling bill at least proposed. The state legislature has already made the first move by introducing a placeholder bill.
When asked about legal sports betting in November of 2018, Governor Mike DeWine said, “It’s coming to Ohio whether people want it or not. We need to be there to do it the right way.”
It’s an attitude in keeping with the state’s recently-adopted progressive attitude towards gambling. Additionally, some of the key factors that caused Ohio to allow casinos in 2009 could play a big role in pushing legal sports betting forward as well.
When lawmakers finally decided to allow casinos in the state’s four largest cities it was due in large part to the huge amount of money leaving state to be gambled away in casinos in Indiana and West Virginia.
The same thing is already happening with people in Ohio placing sports wagers on unlicensed offshore betting sites and it’s only going to get worse when nearby states including West Virginia and Pennsylvania introduce legal sports betting options of their own.
The eleven casinos and racinos that Ohio now has are wildly successful and have proven the inherent gambling demand of the citizens. The hope now is that with new laws in place Ohioans will soon have licensed and sanctioned sportsbooks to bet at as well.
Going back to Governor DeWine’s attitude on the matter gives us even more confidence that we’ll see real movement on this issue in 2019.
"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,” he said.
“I think it's important for Ohio to do it right and so I will work with the state legislature when I'm governor to make sure this is done right, make sure that we can control it, make sure that we can regulate it.”
DeWine also mentioned the prospect of online sports betting in favorable terms.
"Look people want to gamble you know a tremendous amount of gambling goes on under the table in regard to sports. We need now that the United States Supreme Court has made their ruling we're going to have every state is going to be jumping into this, people are going to be able to do it on their app," he said.
Promising news indeed for a state that is truly passionate about its sports and loves to gamble.
The History of Online Sports Betting in Ohio
Ohio has a long and interesting gambling story that switches from slow to quick in a hurry. Here are some of the stand out moments in the Buckeye state’s history.
- 1790 - Gambling, for the first time, is made illegal in the state and carries a relatively large $200 fine.
- 1807 - Lotteries, which had been common at the time, were now legally banned.
- 1933 - For the first time horse betting, as Pari-mutuel wagers, are legalized.
- 1973 - Changes made to the Constitution that allows Ohio to reinstate its lottery which includes scratch-off games, draws and electronic terminals.
- 1975 - Constitutional amendment makes charity bingo and raffles legal.
- 2004 - Control of charity gambling is now controlled by the Lottery commission.
- 2009 - For the first time the state approves of and licenses four commercial casinos in Cleveland, Cincinnati, Toledo and Columbus.
- 2012 - Video lottery terminals are offered at racinos.
- 2012: A new form of gambling at Internet Sweepstakes Cafes become a legal issue. The cafes offer games played on a computer that have randomized potential prizes and the legal issue discusses whether they need to be licensed under the gambling statutes or are exclusive and different.
- 2018 - Senators John Eklund and Sean O’Brien, on July 12, draft a new bill proposing legalized sports gambling in the state with hopes of having the issue brought to the table in early 2019 round table discussions at state legislature.
Which Online Sports Betting Sites are Legal in Ohio?
At the moment there aren’t any online sportsbooks to bet on but optimistic experts think it will be possible within the next year or two. Chances are good that sports betting will happen first in land-based casinos with online betting options following soon after.
Firstly they have to decide whether they will restrict sportsbooks to the eleven current casinos in the state or extend further to private establishments.
We are confident that Ohio’s future will include online wagering but the exact timeline is not clear.
What Sports Can You Bet on Online in Ohio?
Aside from daily fantasy sports which we’ll cover in more detail in the next section, Ohioans are not currently able to bet on any sports whether it’s online or in land-based casinos.
If and when it does arrive, however, gamblers in Ohio will be able to bet on major North American leagues like the NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL as well as tons of other teams and sports from the US and around the world.
Ohio has a fanatical sports culture and the major league franchises to back it up. If sports wagering does become an options, we expect a ton of action to focus on the local favorites.
Ohio is home to some of the world’s most iconic teams and athletes.
Ohio basketball fans definitely have something to cheer for with the Cavaliers based in Cleveland. Sadly they were forced to watch their beloved superstar LeBron James move to LA but he did bring the city of Cleveland a championship that they had been starving for.
The Cleveland Browns represent Ohio in the NFL and although they’ve never won a Super Bowl, they have a loyal following in the state. Fans have now turned their attention to Browns budding hero, quarterback Baker Mayfield who showed serious potential in his first season as a starter.
Also repping Ohio in the NFL are the Cincinnati Bengals who play out of Paul Brown Stadium in downtown Cincinnati.
The Cleveland Indians have re-established themselves as a force in Major League Baseball posting 5 straight plus-500 seasons including some exhilarating runs in the playoffs which included a trip to the World Series in 2016.
The Cincinnati Reds, meanwhile, have been playing ball in the state since 1882 and have a devoted fan-base that will look forward to backing them in the form of big bets.
Collegiate football and basketball, while still unclear whether it will be bettable, has tremendous following as supporters go wild for the Buckeyes, Bobcats, Rockets, and Raiders.
The Buckeyes, ofcourse, being the biggest of the bunch as they are, in NCAA football, the only Power 5 Conference program in the state and play in the Big Ten Conference
Is Betting on fantasy sports legal in Ohio?
Yes. Betting on daily fantasy sports (DFS) is legal in Ohio but there are a few important stipulations.
When DFS became legalized in Ohio under House Bill 132 there were quite a few back and forth adjustments made to legislation before it could be licensed and sanctioned officially. Here are the main points to understand:
- The Ohio Casino Control Commission (OCCC) has authority and control overseeing all activities.
- No youth or collegiate level sports are allowed.
- Entries limited to a maximum number per account.
- Operators must acquire license.
- Operators cannot advertise to minors.
- Must be 18 years of age or older to participate.
For your safety and wellbeing it is helpful to know that House Bill 132 is supported by the Cleveland Indians, Columbus Crew and Cincinnati Reds as well as the Fantasy Sports Trade Association.
All licensed DFS betting sites operating in Ohio are sanctioned by the US Gaming Commission.
Is There No Deposit Sports Betting in Ohio?
Since online sports betting is not yet legal, there are no promotional deposit offers to speak of right now. That being said, we predict online sports betting will arrive in Ohio eventually and will include a wide variety of bonuses, deals and promotions.
The first thing to remember is that most bonuses come with conditions. Free money is nice but you need to understand all the fine print.
Depositing rules vary from site to site so make sure to check back when online sportsbooks become legal in Ohio so we can walk you through all the important details.
What is the Future of Online Sports Betting in Ohio?
Right now it is a matter of lawmakers and legislatures finalizing a plan for the future. A crucial step will be determining whether the Ohio Lottery or Casino Control Commission will share authority or if one will preside over the other.
For now, signs are pointing to legalized sports betting in Ohio sometime in 2019 or 2020 if things go smoothly.
The most likely sequence of events is that a new sports betting bill will be proposed, refined and eventually passed. It will allow for land-based casinos to offer in-person sports wagering which should be followed soon after by online betting options.
Whether Ohio’s online sportsbooks will be limited to existing casinos or if it will be open to a wider group of operators remains a question mark.
One of the biggest hurdles will be whether lawmakers are able to pass simple legislation to allow sports gambling or whether it will require an amendment to the state constitution.
Senator John Eklund, one of the biggest Republican proponents of legalized gambling, says there is "absolutely no doubt in my mind it can be done statutorily."
Sentate President Larry Obhoff, who graduated with a law degree from Yale, disagrees. According to Obhoff the only way to do it would with a constitutional amendment.
Ohio Sports Betting Shows Promising Signs
With a placeholder bill already in play, thriving casino and sports cultures plus key politicians including the state’s governor voicing support for legalization, the only real question now is when it will all go down.
The first few months of 2019 will be the most telling as we see the initial reactions to the proposed sports betting bill. We’ll hear from pro sports franchises, casino industry lobbyists, politicians and the people in Ohio.
Make sure to check back on this page as things unfold. Once legalization does happen, we’ll have reviews and exclusive offers for all the best online sports betting sites in Ohio.