Ohio legislative committee to consider iGaming

Haley Hintze Author Photo
Haley Hintze
Posted on: January 20, 2024 04:49 PST

An Ohio legislative committee with bipartisan membership and including representatives of potentially impacted agencies is set to begin introdutory exploration of all forms of iGaming in a series of four hearings beginning next month.

The hearings will be run under the auspices of the newly-renamed Study Commission on the Future of Gaming in Ohio before an 11-member panel of eight state legislators and three bureacratic officials. The eight legislators consist of four members each from Ohio's state senate and assembly, appointed in a bipartisan manner The other three attendees are scheduled to be the chairpersons of Ohio's State Lottery Commission, the Ohio Casino Control Commission, and the State Racing Commission.

No measures are expected to be drawn up based on the hearing's findings. Instead, the study commission - which is itself a temporary construct, adjourned and reauthorized as needed - will examine the benefits and drawbacks of bringing regulated online gambling to the Buckeye State. Online lottery, sports betting, pari-mutuel wagering, and online casinos (including online poker) are all among the gambling forms to be considered. All are the internet counterparts of land-based gambling forms already falling under the commission's review.

Ohio trails neighboring states in enacting iGaming regulation

With the exception of Nevada, all of the US states that have approved online casino-style gaming have come from the country's northeastern region, a swath of the US that includes Ohio. Three of its immediate-neighbor states have already authorized online casinos and online poker - Michigan, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia - though West Virginia has yet to have any sites go live to date.

The proximity of Ohio to existing regulated states increases the chances that the committee will consider the possibility of wagers flowing to these neighborhood states from Ohioans willing to cross the border to play online. That's at least a modest positive factor for iGaming's future in the state.

However, it won't happen soon, and almost certainly not in 2024. Ohio State Rep. Jay Edwards , who will be one of the 11 committee members, recently told PlayUSA, “Really, we’re not pushing to get this done. There’s no bill introduced or anything like that. What we’re trying to do is start the conversation, get best practices, educate members and allow regulators some input on the process so that when we are ready, we can start to implement that.”