Ohio sports betting has begun to gradually grow after a tumultuous start to 2020, professional and college sports have resumed, albeit in a restricted format, allowing for an upturn in sports betting.
Ohio sport bettors can place bets legally at online sport books that are based offshore. There is a misconception that it is illegal for a bet to be placed, which is NOT true. It is however, illegal to facilitate the operation of a sports book and for US banks to process sports betting transactions, which we will explain in further detail.
State sports betting laws that specifically permit onshore sport bookmakers, have yet to be agreed upon and passed in legislation.
A stand off currently persists between the House and the Senate. The former wanting to have the Ohio Lottery be the regulator, whilst the latter would prefer to have the Ohio Casino Control Commission.
Realistically, sports betting is not going to raise a large amount of tax revenue to the Ohio budget, nevertheless, as a sports bettor, you can legally place a bet at an offshore sports betting site.
Ohio Online Betting
Since Ohio has yet to pass laws allowing for in-person betting, your only option that doesn’t involve travelling is to bet online through an offshore sports book.
Many of them set up shop in the Caribbean and Central America to cater for American customers under a loose interpretation of the Wire Act that would let them operate just outside the reach of U.S law enforcement. These offshore sport books are legitimate and many Americans have been playing with them since the online betting began.
Betting online requires you to open an account deposit money, and maintain a balance with an internet bookmaker.
An online betting account acts as a special purpose bank account where you place bets from your balance. If you win, your balance will be credited and go up, if you lose your balance will go down. And if you balance lands at zero, you will need to make another deposit if you want to continue to place further bets.
If you’re winning more that you’re losing and your balance grows, you can request a withdrawal and the bookmaker will send you the amount you requested.
Betting online has its advantages:
No-wait convenience: Instead of waiting in line at a sports book, just turn on your laptop or mobile device and you are ready! This is great of bettors are who looking to jump on great odds, a big advantage over those who are physically lining up at a betting window waiting to place a bet.
In-game betting: Many sport bettors like to place a bet on the next play in basketball, football, the next inning in baseball etc. Sport book sites are so advanced that they can offer bets via analyzing odds with the snap of a finger. A fast game is a good game as they say.
More odds to choose from: Online sport books make hundreds of proposition bets that are logistically too many to fit on a board. You will find that online there can be thousands of bets to choose from.
Better odds: The sharpest sports bettors like to seize the an opportunity and bet strongly on the best odds. Today, many sports bettors have multiple online sports betting accounts from which they can quickly compare which offers the best spread and moneylines.
Ohio Sports Gambling
Contrary to the belief of many, you can place a bet online from Ohio. There is a complex web of Federal and State laws that each have nuances.
We do not condone the breaking of laws (whether it be the Federal, State or Local Ohio County). So while we have interpreted the following laws in our honest opinion, we are not lawyers. If you need a second opinion, we strongly encourage you to do so.
Federal Sport Gambling Laws
In explaining why it is legal in Ohio to place a sports bet, we begin with the Organized Crime Control Act of 1955.
During the 1950’s, mafia led crime was on the rise. As a means of reducing and controlling mafia business the Organized Crime Control Act was introduced to stymie the flow of funds relating to illegal activity, The Act placed a threshold of $2,000 in gambling revenue and restricted the number of bettors to a maximum of five.
This first significant legislation relating to sports gambling sets the them of proceeding laws that attempts to restrict sport bookmakers rather then to ban or to penalize the sports bettor.
The Wire Act of 1961
In the 1960’s telephony was the technological breakthrough that occurred. Sport books were growing rapidly in particular for horse racing. The Kennedy era waged a war against organized crime and introduced The Wire Act of 1961.
The Wire Act was directed at disrupting sport books rather than the sports bettor.
Of course, telephony sports betting is almost obsolete in today’s world. And therefore this creates a lot of ambiguity because it’s unclear how (if at all) The Wire Act could be applied to the internet.
The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992
In the late 1980’s and the early 90’s, a few scandals broke out that related to college players deliberately missing free throws in basketball games. This caused a stir among anti gambling supporters, and the Federal government introduced one of the most industry destroying laws to date. The PASPA effectively removed all authority from States to permit any form on sports gambling. Even if the State wanted to operate their own sports lottery, it could not. The ban was applied to ALL US States with the exemption of Nevada.
Again, we want to highlight, that within the PASPA law there is no reference to sports bettors, but ONLY to sports book operators. Therefore, offshore online sports betting continues to be permitted and accepted.
But along comes another law in the 2000, which makes placing a sports bet offshore even more difficult.
Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act of 2006
Sports betting at offshore betting sites became further restricted, when the UIGEA came into force. This Act was introduced during the increasingly popularity of online poker operated by offshore poker sites. Some lawmakers were concerned that too many American’s were enjoying playing online poker, and as a result they restricted banks (including those in Ohio) from processing transactions to offshore known casinos, poker sites, and unfortunately also sports betting sites.
But again, we want to point out, in no way did this make betting at an offshore sports betting site illegal as a bettor.
PASPA 2018 Overturned
In a win for sports bettors in the nation (excluding Nevada who were already entitled to offer sports betting), the Supreme Court overturned the PASPA Federal laws that prevented each State from determining sports betting legislation independently.
Each state reacted differently to the overturning of the PASPA. Some thought “meh”, our laws current law don’t allow any form of gambling anyways (for instance Utah), while other states bolted out of the gates (such as Pennsylvania).
So what did Ohio do?
Ohio Sports Betting Laws
Currently Ohio State Legislation authorizes four casinos at different geographical locations within Ohio to offer gambling.
There are also seven racetrack casinos that are allowed to commercially operated Video Lottery Terminals.
If the latest bills were to pass for sports betting, the above gambling venues would be permitted to offer retail sports betting under the supervision of the Ohio State Lottery. The Ohio State Lottery is authorized to offer both instant and interactive lottery products, and would also become the regulator for sports betting.
Ohio State law does not expressly prohibit interactive gambling (though certain interactive casino activity is prohibited) but does prohibit onshore interactive operators from operating within the market.
The current gambling age ranges between 18 for lottery, pari-mutuel and bingo (live and interactive) products and, 21 for casino and slots machine betting.
We anticipate that the legal sports betting age will be 21.
Let’s go through the timeline of Ohio Sports Betting below:
October 2016 – Daily Fantasy Sports is discussed
Senator Bill Coley, introduced SB356, to define daily fantasy sports and other games that charge a rake, as “schemes of chance” which would make them illegal under the state’s current gambling laws. The bill authorizes the operation of such games on a not-for-profit basis provided 100% of the entry fee pool is returned to the participants as prizes.
December 2016 – attempt to regulate Daily Fantasy Sports
Senators Dave Burke and Cliff Hite introduced a bill to authorize and regulate daily fantasy sports. SB375 sets out a regulatory framework for the industry and would entrust the Casino Control Commission with the licensing and regulation of operators.
March 2017 – Daily Fantasy Sports is a game of skill
HB132 was introduced to classify daily fantasy sports as a game of skill and therefore remove it from the state’s definition of illegal gambling. The bill sets out a regulatory framework to govern the industry and directs the Casino Control Commission to license operators and oversee the activity. Annual license fees are set at $30k.
December 2017 – Daily Fantasy Sports is nearing final approval
Daily fantasy sports regulation bill HB132, was passed by both chambers of the legislature following its final readings. The bill progressed to the Governor’s desk for final approval.
May 2018 – Legalizing sports betting is first discussed
Senator Joe Schiavoni announced plans to introduce a bill to regulate and legalise sports betting across the state after the SCOTUS decision struck down PASPA.
July 2018 – First House and Senate Sports Betting Bills are introduced
Senators John Eklund and Sean O’Brien introduced SB316 and House Representative David Greenspan introduced corresponding bill HB714 to state the intent to develop and enact legislation to legalize sports betting across the state. No details regarding the potential regulative environment were included in either bills at this stage.
March 2019 – Legalize sports betting through Ohio Casinos
Senators John Eklund and Sean O’Brien introduced legislation to authorize and regulate sports betting. SB111 would allow the state’s casinos and racinos to offer landbased and interactive sports betting and proposed a 6.25% tax on gross win.
April 2019 – Ohio Sports Gaming Advisory Board proposed as the regulator
Representatives Dave Greenspan and Brigid Kelly introduced legislation to authorize and regulate sports betting. HB194 would legalize the activity in the state and establish the Sports Gaming Advisory Board to develop regulations to govern the industry. The bill proposed a 10% tax on gross win.
August 2019 – Ohio Casino Control Commission approves Daily Fantasy Sport regulations
The Casino Control Commission gave its final approval to regulations to govern daily fantasy sports games in the state and announced it would begin the licensing process on 3 September 2019. The Commission stated that operators already active in the state must submit applications before 3 October 2019 in order to continue uninterrupted.
October 2019 – Ohio Lottery Commission proposed as the regulator
Ohio’s House Finance Committee resumed hearings on bill SB194 that would regulate online and retail sportsbetting under the supervision of the Ohio Lottery Commission.
May 2020 – SB194 for online and retail sports betting is passed in the House, now for the Senate!
The House approved sports betting bill SB194 which would authorize and regulate online and retail sports betting. The bill progressed to the Senate for approval.
Is sports betting legal in Ohio?
Yes, the act of placing a sports bet is legal from Ohio, BUT it is illegal for onshore sport books to operate. It is also illegal for banks to facilitate offshore transactions to offshore casinos, poker sites and sports betting sites. However, it remains legal for a sports bet to be placed at an offshore sports betting site.
Can I place a bet with an Ohio sports book?
Currently Ohio State laws have yet to pass sports betting laws that would permit an onshore sports book to operate.
What is the legal age to place a bet at an offshore sports book?
Each sports betting site have their own legal minimum age that they are willing to accept. However, please bear in mind, that local gambling age laws may also apply. This is because even though the act of placing a sports bet is legal, the minimum legal age of betting in the state still applies. In this case, for Ohio sports bettors, it is 21.