Ohio Lawmakers Approve Gambling Bill
The trend of pro-gaming legislation continues in the U.S. as Ohio lawmakers approved a bill recently which lays out rules for the variety of gambling offerings soon to arrive at the state’s horse racetracks.
Casinos, bingo halls, and video lottery terminals will now be permitted at each of the seven horse tracks in Ohio. Gov. John Kasich is expected to sign the bill which will put it into effect immediately.
Under the legislation, six of the seven cities home to the “horse racinos” will receive $1 million each year for two years through a fund that the casinos agree to pay into. Columbus was excluded from receiving the extra money.
The bill also places a one-year moratorium on Internet sweepstakes cafes throughout the state that allow customers to pay for phone cards to bet on computers loaded with poker and slot games. Legislators will consider separate legislation to regulate the sweepstakes cafes.
Ohio House Bill 386 passed both chambers of the state’s legislative body comfortably with votes of 23-6 in the Senate and 71-22 in the House.
The bill was passed in the same month that Ohio’s first two casinos open for business. Horseshoe Casino opened in downtown Cleveland on May 14th. Hollywood Casino Toledo opens this week on that city’s riverfront. The first racetrack slots parlor is expected to be open at Scioto Downs in Columbus within days.
Not making the cut in the bill was a measure that would have allowed every Ohio county to operate a card room for the purpose of running charitable poker tournaments. This language was dropped from the bill as a concession by the Senate and will be readdressed in future legislation.
The bill did not contain any wording regarding online gaming. To date, Ohio has failed to place itself among the U.S. states considering iGaming legislation. But their recent trend of taking a friendly stance towards gambling suggests that this once staunchly anti-gambling state may be ripe for iGaming possibilities in the future.
Ohio is worth keeping an eye on as one possible state which may opt into future U.S. legislation that would permit their residents to access the online gaming offerings being hosted elsewhere. Currently, New Jersey is racing to pass a bill that could include language which would allow residents of other states to participate in their Atlantic City-based iGaming.
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