Look up online casino legislation in Ohio and you’ll quickly find that sports betting, in particular, has a chance of moving forward. With legal online betting having slowly but surely crept into some states in the Northeast and Midwest, there are now signs of progress in Ohio as well. Specifically, a report on sports betting by
News 5 Cleveland in February revealed that seven state senators have formed a Select Committee on Gaming, and are meeting weekly to hear testimony on the subject and lay the groundwork for a legislative effort.
With the success online betting has enjoyed in other states like Pennsylvania and New Jersey, it seems almost inevitable that just such a legislative effort will ultimately materialize. What will be more interesting though is watching for online casino regulation to follow. Both Pennsylvania and New Jersey have taken this step as well. And interestingly enough, the Select Committee’s weekly
meetings will reportedly include testimony on electronic bingo — a potential doorway to broader gaming consideration.
A few years ago, the idea of legal online gaming in Ohio might have seem like a long shot, if not a full-on pipe dream. Now, however, there are some clear reasons to consider it a viable possibility and a sensible idea.
First and foremost, online gaming revenue has proven to be good business for the states doing it. Just recently, a Bloomberg assessment of New Jersey revenues revealed that in a down year for the state’s casino industry, online betting was a bright spot. Without real-world casino tourism, or even a normal sports calendar for people to bet on, it was the online games in the state that
continued to bring in money. That this can be the case even in the midst of a pandemic is a strong endorsement for online gaming strictly as a business.
Another point in favor of online gaming sites is that it has gradually become easier for players to feel more secure — which is crucial when it comes to attracting business from Americans who aren’t used to this brand of entertainment. Poker.org covered the sign-up process for online gaming sites in a recent article and presented a surprisingly intricate picture. At reputable sites, players have to create profiles, provide identifying information, and even in some
cases have their IDs verified in order to start gaming. All of this contributes to the sense that the high-end sites are well-run, secure, and regulated, which is necessary if they’re to thrive in new states.
Additionally, building on that last point, it’s worth noting that allowing legal online casino gaming specifically stops people from seeking out illegal or unregulated alternatives. It’s generally known that a lot of Americans do seek out betting and gaming options that are less than trustworthy when they don’t have easy access to better options. In this sense, legalizing gaming sites won’t only give
players access to secure sign-up processes and reliable sites, but will save them from sites they shouldn’t be using.
Beyond these logical arguments in favor of online gaming in Ohio, we also know that the state is already very much open to casino revenue in general. Just last summer, we posted about Central Ohio casinos reopening at a relatively early point in the pandemic. These are of course land-based casinos rather than online sites, but the (relative) rush to open them speaks to the state’s desire to rake in
the corresponding revenue.
All of this adds up to a great deal of incentive for a real discussion about legal casino gaming in Ohio. It will still take time, and sports betting will almost definitely come first. But those hoping for online gaming options have reason for optimism.