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Ohio Casinos Thrive Amid Online Casino Talks

Explore the recent success that has made Ohio a gambling fiesta and what the numbers show to back up an optimistic future for a state that like to show the iGaming world how its done.
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Branimir Ivanov | Senior News Contributor

Updated: May 8, 2024

The Ohio Boom

The Ohio Casino Control Commission (OCCC) recently released its revenue report for March 2024, revealing a robust performance by the state's four casinos. According to the report, the combined taxable revenue for the month surpassed $94.7 million, marking a 13.4% increase from February's gaming revenue of $83.5 million. Compared to March 2023, the revenue showed a modest 1.4% annual rise. It's important to note that this revenue comes solely from slots and table games and does not include revenue from in-person sports betting, as online casinos have not yet been legalized in Ohio.

Despite the absence of online casinos, progress has been made on this front as Ohio lawmakers convened to discuss the potential legalization of online casino gambling. During these discussions, legislators emphasized the state's interest in the activity, particularly considering the success of neighboring states like Michigan, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia, where online casinos are already thriving.

All four of Ohio's casinos exhibited monthly revenue increases in March, as per the OCCC report. Slot revenue accounted for $69.0 million, while table games contributed $25.7 million to the total revenue.

 

Each casino showed notable growth compared to February:

  • Hollywood Columbus reported revenue of $25.6 million, reflecting a 13.3% monthly growth.
  • Jack Cleveland Casino saw revenue of $24.5 million, marking a 13.3% monthly increase.
  • Hollywood Toledo generated $22.5 million in revenue, representing a substantial 16.8% monthly rise.
  • Hard Rock Cincinnati reported revenue of $22.2 million, indicating a 10.5% increase from February.

When compared to March 2023, the following changes were observed:

  • Hollywood Toledo experienced an 8.2% annual rise.
  • Hollywood Columbus showed a 5.1% annual increase.
  • Jack Cleveland Casino reported a slight 0.4% annual increase.
  • Hard Rock Cincinnati exhibited a significant 7.5% annual drop.

 

It's worth noting that Hard Rock Cincinnati was the only casino to show a year-over-year decline in March, a reversal from February when Jack Cleveland Casino experienced the decline.

In parallel with these developments, Ohio lawmakers have been deliberating on the potential benefits of legalizing online casinos. The Study Commission on the Future of Gaming in Ohio has held several meetings to discuss online casino legalization, among other topics like iLottery, sports betting, and daily fantasy sports.

Proponents of online casino legalization argue that it could help regulate the activity and assist problem gamblers. Moreover, they estimate that Ohio could generate between $205 million and $410 million annually in new tax revenue.

While the economic benefits are clear, there are also concerns about the social impact of online gambling. Some opponents worry about the potential increase in problem gambling behavior if online casinos become readily accessible. The addiction rate for online gambling is higher than for traditional in-person gambling due to the ease of access and anonymity.

However, advocates for legalization argue that regulating the online gambling industry would provide a safer environment for gamblers. Licensed online casinos would be required to implement measures such as age verification, responsible gambling tools, and self-exclusion programs to protect vulnerable individuals.

Additionally, the rise of online gambling in neighboring states has put pressure on Ohio to consider legalization. Michigan and Pennsylvania, in particular, have seen substantial tax revenues from their online casinos, prompting Ohio to seriously consider the matter, possibly in 2025.

The growing popularity of online gambling, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic, has also highlighted the need for states to adapt to changing consumer preferences. Many individuals prefer the convenience and accessibility of online casinos, especially when faced with restrictions on in-person activities.

 

Casinos have been an important source of revenue for Ohio, and the recent surge in March highlights their economic significance.

 

Conclusions

As discussions continue, it's clear that Ohio is at a pivotal moment in its gaming industry. The decision to legalize online casinos will have significant implications for the state's economy and its residents. While challenges remain, including addressing concerns about problem gambling and ensuring regulatory compliance, the potential benefits cannot be ignored.

As Ohio lawmakers weigh their options, PlayUSA remains dedicated to tracking the progress and expansion of iGaming in Ohio and across the nation through our online casino bill tracker. Stay tuned for updates as this story unfolds.

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