“Okay.”

That’s the one word I would describe Ohio if asked about their poker scene. They’re not the best, but they’re not the worst either.

Ohio residents do have options. That’s a whole lot more than what other states can say.

You can learn more below. We cover what your legal poker options are and the rules you have to follow.

Legality of Home Poker Games

Home poker games are legal. But only if you follow their rules.

Like many states, Ohio doesn’t want anyone to run an illegal gambling house or casino. That means you cannot rake the pots or charge people to enter your tournaments.

It would also be wise not to charge for food or beverages. Basically, you cannot profit from your poker game. Except for the money you win off other players.

But there are limits there, too. You can get in trouble if you make more money playing home games than you do from other sources.

Is Online Poker Legal?

Ohio hasn’t passed any legislation – one way or the other – for online poker. So, be default online poker falls under these statutes:

§ 2915.01 Definitions

(D) “Game of chance” means poker, craps, roulette, or other game in which a player gives anything of value in the hope of gain, the outcome of which is determined by largely of chance, but does not include bingo.

(F) “Gambling device” means any of the following:
(4) Any equipment, device, apparatus, or paraphernalia specially designed for gambling purposes;
A desk or laptop computer, mobile phone or tablet could be considered a “gambling device.”

§ 2915.02 Gambling.

(A) No person shall do any of the following:
(4) Engage in betting or in playing any scheme or game of chance as a substantial source of income or livelihood;
(5) With purpose to violate division (A)(1), (2), (3), or (4) of this section, acquire, possess, control, or operate any gambling device.

To the best of our knowledge no one has been arrested for playing at offshore poker sites, though. That’s not a recommendation, just a “heads up.”

If you do choose to go that route just make sure to choose a legit site and choose one that has a regular history of paying its players on time.

Want to Play Live Casino Poker

Good news – you can. There are 4 casinos (permitted by the 2009 Casino Amendment) in the state. All 4 of them offer poker.

You can take your pick from:

  • The Horseshoe Casino – Cincinnati
  • The Horseshoe Casino – Cleveland – (News just broke that they launched a $200k poker tournament. This is a 4-day tournament they plan to hold quarterly.)
  • Hollywood Casino – Columbus
  • Hollywood Casino – Toledo

There are charitable poker events, too.

What Does Ohio’s Future Look Like for iGaming?

On one hand, my research shows that Ohio will pass regulation in 2018 or 2019.

On the other hand, it doesn’t look like they will pass anything at all.

One problem they run into is their 2009 Ohio Casino Amendment. This permits only the 4 casinos already up and running. For them to offer online poker, Ohio would have to pull a ‘New Jersey’ and set-up servers within the casinos already licensed/regulated in the state.

And that’s if they were interested in the first place.

According to Danielle Frizzi-Babb (of the Ohio state lottery) – they have no plans to get involved with online gambling.

And according to Kim Arnold (COO of the gaming consultant company, Innovation Group)– Ohio will only get involved with online gambling if and when the surrounding states do.

Well, those states include:

Right now the only state we’re sure will move forward with online gambling in the near future (1-2 years) is Pennsylvania. All others are either on the fence or currently are not interested.

Personally, I think 2018-2019 is a long shot. If Ohio regulates online poker – and that’s a pessimistic “if” – it’ll be a few years farther down the line. Maybe even as late as 2021 or 2022.