Gambling Offenses in Ohio

2012 Revised Gambling Laws: Chapter XXI

The four casinos that Ohio residents voted into the Constitution in 2009 recently opened. Ohio is one of the strictest anti-gambling states, but Issue 3 regarding gambling in Ohio passed with 53 to 47 percent. This amendment to the state Constitution provides for four casinos, one in Columbus, Cleveland, Cincinnati and Toledo. These casinos will operate at a 33 percent tax rate and will, voters hope, improve the economic climate throughout the state.

The owner of the NBA team the Cleveland Cavaliers, Dan Gilbert, was the main source of investments for implementing these four casinos. Currently, there are 39 states in the United States that have legalized casinos. One of the main reasons the casinos were approved is the promise of job creation and an increase in the tourism industry for Ohio. With the opening of these new state casinos comes the possibility of a whole new type of crime in Ohio: gambling offenses. Social gambling is allowed, but it is a misdemeanor for a simple gambling penalty and a felony for an aggravated gambling penalty.

Chapter 2915 Gambling Offenses

While not previously illegal, cheating in gambling or otherwise "fixing" sporting events to manipulate bets is a criminal offense. Gambling penalties are listed under this specific section of Ohio law and are paraphrased below:

  • § 2915.02 Gambling- Those that are found guilty of gambling will be charged with a first degree misdemeanor. Those that have prior gambling offenses on their record will be charged with a fifth degree felony offense.
  • § 2915.03 Operating a Gambling House- No person that has control or ownership of a premises shall knowingly operate the premises for the purpose of gambling. Same penalties as above.
  • § 2915.04 Public Gambling- It is illegal to commence in gambling at an unapproved premises such as a hotel or restaurant. This will be charged as a minor misdemeanor or a fourth degree misdemeanor for prior offenses.
  • § 2915.05 Cheating or Corrupting Sports- Attempting to manipulate the outcome of a game for the purpose of fraud is punishable as a fifth degree felony or a fourth degree felony for subsequent offenses of this nature.
  • § 2915.06 Skill-Based Amusement Machines- It is a fifth degree felony in some cases and in other cases is a first degree misdemeanor.
  • § 2915.07 Conducting Illegal Bingo- Charitable organizations and others that have obtained valid bingo licenses are the only ones allowed to conduct games of bingo. Violations are felonies of the fourth degree.

To view the rest of the Ohio gaming law provisions and penalties for illegal gambling activity, please view the Ohio Revised Code Title 29 Chapter 2915.

Is gambling allowed at internet cafes?

Gambling is allowed online, but many internet cafes across Ohio have been raided by state and local authorities. Some officials are even attempting to ban gambling parlors that are attempting to conceal themselves as internet cafes. Others simply wish to tax the cafes as casinos. Many internet cafes offer sweepstakes for every dollar that they spend using the internet connection at the café, but these sweepstakes are similar to virtual slot machines. Gambling is legal in Ohio as a social activity and at designated casinos, and internet cafes are not designated as "casinos" and therefore are not regulated like them. The Columbus criminal defense attorneys at our firm can assist you if you are facing gambling offenses in relation to internet cafes.

Help from a Columbus Criminal Defense Attorney

If you or a loved one is facing any type of gambling offense, especially in light of the recent casino openings in Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati and Toledo, then please do not hesitate to speak with a Columbus criminal defense lawyer at our firm. Both misdemeanor and felony gambling offenses are serious and should be handled by only the most qualified attorneys. The attorneys at our firm have been AV® Preeminent™ rated by Martindale-Hubbell®, rated as one of the Best Law Firms by U.S. News as well as other prestigious awards. If you've recently been arrested for a gambling related offense, our firm has the accreditations and awards that you can trust.

Contact a Columbus gambling crime lawyer from our firm today!