Ohio’s gambling laws aren’t as tight-knit as the gambling laws seen in West Virginia and Pennsylvania. The latter two states have far more liberal gambling laws. Other than taxation on winnings and enforcement of underground gambling venues, West Virginia and Pennsylvania boast similar laws.
Ohio is getting more liberal by the year regarding their laws, but they’re still far more conservative than those you see in Pennsylvania and West Virginia.
This article provides an outline of gambling laws in West Virginia and Pennsylvania. It also goes over gambling laws in Ohio, the similarities and differences among the three states, as well as what the future holds for the gambling scene in Ohio.
One reason an article like this is necessary is because of the proximity of some Ohio casinos to those in West Virginia and Pennsylvania. So, if you’re crossing state lines, this article is worth the read.
West Virginia and Pennsylvania Gambling Laws
While West Virginia is often known for its rather negative stereotypes, most of us probably don’t realize that it has some of the most liberal gambling laws in America and boasts some of the most well-known casinos like Charles Town Races, the Greenbrier, and Wheeling Island Casino.
Pennsylvania has also followed suit in recent years. And both states have since legalized outlets like real money online gambling through land-based casinos, table gaming, sports betting, and more.
The only actual difference regarding West Virginia’s and Pennsylvania’s gambling laws includes taxation on winnings, where Pennsylvania’s is through the roof at a whopping 34%.
West Virginia is stricter when it comes to enforcing penalties on unlicensed gambling sites, where offenders can face misdemeanor charges.
Other than that, almost every form of gambling is legal in West Virginia and Pennsylvania as of 2020. It was a different story in the early 2000s, when table gaming and sports betting were still banned.
But as the first 20 years of the new century ticked by, both states have followed one another and are just a handful of states where you can engage in sports betting straight from your couch while playing your favorite slot machines. And that’s the case so long as venues have the appropriate license.
Pennsylvania is also looking to include live dealer games, something that is groundbreaking in America’s gambling scene.
So, as you can take away from this section, gambling laws in both states are definitely more on the liberal side. Only a handful of states have so far allowed sports betting and online casino gambling. Both West Virginia and Pennsylvania are among the first few states in the nation to do so.
Now that you have an overview of Pennsylvania and West Virginia’s gambling laws, let’s look at Ohio.
Ohio’s Gambling Laws
As of 2020, Ohio still lags behind West Virginia and Pennsylvania. However, for the longest time, it seemed like only horse race betting was legal in the state. Since a 2009 amendment to the state constitution, however, both table gaming and video lottery terminals (VLTs) have become legal.
With that said, you can look for Ohio to grow more liberal well into the future, especially if the casinos that sprung up in the last decade prove to boost a once-stagnant Ohio economy that struggled when the manufacturing industry collapsed in the state.
The same goes for West Virginia and Pennsylvania. And now, it seems like Ohio is catching on and stealing pages from their neighbors’ books.
Betting on sports as of 2020 is still illegal in Ohio whether it’s online or in person. However, daily fantasy sports are legal in Ohio, much like they are in most states where sports betting is illegal.
More good news on the Ohio front is that there is a bill in play, so perhaps we’ll see the passage occur. If gambling continues to spike Ohio’s economy, you can bet that sports betting will become a thing in the state.
Also, gambling in online casinos of any kind is illegal in Ohio. However, with the opening of several casinos back in the early 2010s, online casino gambling—like sports betting—could find its way into becoming legalized.
Again, it depends on how well its legalization will help the state on an economic level. But after land-based casinos have helped transform Ohio from manufacturing to a more diverse range of industries, online casino gambling could be well on the way.
One big upside that supports the argument that the casino gaming industry has helped and diversified the Ohio economy is the fact that two of the casinos built in Ohio were on former sites of industrial plants. These were plants that employed thousands of people.
Not only are companies earning money, but they’re employing more people as well. And the state will continue to look into this.
In short, Ohio stands with more moderate gambling laws in the US. They’re evidently not quite where West Virginia and Pennsylvania stand. However, they’re nowhere near as conservative as they once were before the 2010s decade, even if they had bills on the ballot to legalize casino gaming as early as 1990.
Gambling laws in Ohio are growing more similar to what you’re seeing in West Virginia and Pennsylvania. 10 years ago, the laws would have been drastically different, as Ohio had no real land-based casinos. Only pari-mutuel betting was legal in the state.
In the 1970s, there was the Ohio Lottery, as well as bingo and raffles gaining legalization.
At the time of this writing, Ohio now has VLTs at each of its seven racetracks, morphing each track into racinos, or a casino-racetrack hybrid. But the land-based casinos in the state offer almost everything you see in West Virginia and Pennsylvania.
Endless slots, table games, video poker, poker rooms—you name it—most of it is there. And as mentioned in the above sections, you can bet that Ohio’s gambling laws will grow even more similar to West Virginia and Pennsylvania in the future.
If I had to summarize the laws comparing Ohio to Pennsylvania and West Virginia, I’d say they have their similarities and differences. But they’re also growing more like West Virginia and Pennsylvania as the years go by. So, if you’re an Ohio gambler, you won’t be crossing state borders much longer.
The major differences include two sectors: sports betting and online casino gambling. As mentioned, there is hope in Ohio that soon, we will see sports betting legalized, and each casino in the state will perhaps offer their own sportsbooks. It wouldn’t be surprising if the sportsbooks even extended to the racinos.
And as mentioned, Ohio lags behind West Virginia and Pennsylvania in online casino gambling. Since online casino gambling is still new in both states, it’s wise to think you won’t see legalization for some time in Ohio.
But as I also mentioned in the above section, if Ohio sees states like West Virginia and Pennsylvania’s economy growing from online gambling, expect a bill to be introduced in Columbus.
It’s also wise to think if Ohio gamblers cross state borders to enjoy online gambling, then you should expect swift legislative action on this front.
This is copycat country. If states see specific sectors of industry succeeding in neighboring states, especially at the expense of its own state, then you can most definitely expect legalization or further legalization of such industries.
And not just in Ohio, but also in states who have similar gambling laws.
Expect Ohio to legalize sports betting sooner rather than later, both given its popularity and the fact that many of its residents would cross into Pennsylvania or West Virginia to bet.
Since online casino gambling is still breaking ground in states where it’s legalized, you can project that Ohio will eventually cave and legalize it, too. You can expect online casino gambling to be legalized in Ohio in the coming years.
Ohio’s gambling laws are growing more similar to their neighboring states each year, and the good news is that there are active bills in the Ohio House and Senate that may bring them even closer to West Virginia and Pennsylvania.
But they’re also far more conservative, with sports betting and online casino gaming still illegal. Yet if the land-based casinos continue to bolster Ohio’s economy and change its identity from manufacturing to a diverse set of industries, expect legalization sooner than later.
Don’t be surprised if you see a law passed sooner than we may have once considered.
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