While not a punter myself, I do have several friends that are eager for some action now and again and who wonder where in the state they can place a few bets of play a few games. Is it legal? What can you play? What is there to bet on? Here is how gambling works in Ohio.
Let’s get the most important question out of the way – yes, gambling is legal in the state of Ohio. It is true that the anti-gaming mentality held its ground for a while, but we have been able to play in casinos since 2012. Even before that, horse racing was fine, though its popularity was on the decline for a spell.
If you want to gamble in Ohio, you should know that you need to be 21 for the casinos, and 18 for the lottery, bingo, and racing. Now, here’s a bit of a kick for people who like to play and bet online – as far as gambling online goes, only the horse races are allowed.
There are regular casinos and racetrack casinos. Presuming you are familiar with the former, racetrack casinos are seven different casinos located on the race tracks, giving you a chance to enjoy some action before the next race. They are open 24 hours a day, though you are not allowed to drink between 2 and 6 in the morning. Forget Vegas and the Hollywood movies – you will not get complimentary drinks here.
It is important to note that if you win a certain amount of money at a casino, (currently $1200), the casino will withhold 5% as tax and another 2.5% if you are from Cleveland, Cincinnati, or Columbus.
You may need to check the state’s legislation closely on this one, but I believe that there is an exception to online gambling in Ohio – fantasy sports. The reason the fantasy sports sites are able to take on clientele from Ohio is that they claim that fantasy sports are a game of skill and are exempt from usual gambling regulations. So far, the state has been quiet on the subject, but it’s better to be safe than sorry and to check with the local authorities what the official stance on the matter is.
Any legitimate site or brick-and-mortar location is going to tell you the same thing, so you may as well hear it here, too: gamble responsibly. Gambling is a fun activity that requires focus and a clear head. Why do you think there’s a time when casinos no longer serve drinks and why some of them don’t allow smoking? They want their clientele to be able to think clearly and not make any decisions with long-term consequences.
It is fine if you are enjoying yourself, it really is. As I said, I’m not a punter, but I have, on occasion, kept my friends company in casinos and on the track. It’s exciting, it’s fun, and it needs to be responsible.