Ohio Internet Gambling
Gambling, wagering and games of chance are generally prohibited in Ohio by virtue of the state’s Constitution of 1851 and its amendments until 2011, but there are certain exceptions set forth in Article 15, section 6. These exceptions apply to lotteries, charitable bingo games and the large-scale casinos that recently opened, plus two more that are under construction. There’s also the Racino at Scioto Downs, but any other type of gambling activity in the Buckeye State would presumably be forestalled by the Constitution.
Internet gambling in Ohio belongs in a different dimension — lawmakers, prosecutors, law enforcement officials, and voters are largely at odds regarding its legality. According to the Office of the Attorney General, there are more than 700 Internet cafes in Ohio that allow patrons to rent computer terminals equipped with software that communicates with a sweepstakes provider that is located in a different state.
Sweepstakes are essentially lottery games in which the prize is paid with monies deposited by the players. These Internet cafes, which are overwhelmingly located in Northeast Ohio, sometimes sell phone cards that allow patrons to play the software on the computer terminals, which essentially emulate electronic slot machines. It’s hard to say whether these establishments aim to take advantage of a loophole in the laws and regulations of Ohio, but at least one storefront in Fremont that was raided earlier this year has reopened after proper business registration.