Ohio Legal Poker Sites

Ohio StateIt is only in the last 5 years that poker action has really taken off in Ohio. The enactment of a law licensing State casinos has seen poker card rooms spring up in several major cities – offering a great range of games and tournaments to residents here. The social poker scene in Ohio is more complex, with both bar and charity poker games not legal. Home games are carved out, as long as nobody is making a profit from running the games.

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This page gives Ohio poker fans an overview of all the ways that the game can (and can’t) be played in this State. First up, the live poker venues at the brand new State casinos are looked at. After that you will find a run-down on the social side of poker gaming – followed by a look into the world of online poker games. Towards the bottom of this page you will find information and discussion on the Iowa Statutes – then at the very end a high level overview of the current poker situation here.

Ohio Live Poker Games

While Ohio were late to the scene when it comes to licensing casinos, they have made up for it with some quality venues. These are spread through the major cities, covering Columbus, Cincinnati and Cleveland. There are some big poker rooms, with up to 40 tables available. The size and popularity of these rooms is already starting to attract many of the bigger tournament tours – though there is plenty of tournament action in the regular weekly schedules. Cash games can be found in plenty of poker variations and several different buy-in levels too.

There are several alternate live poker rooms across State borders, with Michigan and Pennsylvania both offering a lot of options.

Are Home Games Legal In Ohio?

Social home games are legal in Ohio, the usual rule that nobody can make a profit from the running or hosting of the game does apply. This means no rake or entry fees – you could still regularly beat the game!

Bar leagues are a bit of a grey area under the law here. Many leagues were banned, though some still advertise. The opinion of the government is that these games are not carved-out and so are covered by the broad gambling laws. When there are no buy-ins, the legal situation becomes a little less clear! If you do play in a bar league in Ohio, please be aware that you are doing this at your own risk.

Charity poker nights are defined far more clearly under the law – these are illegal. There are other ways charities can use gambling games to raise money including Bingo and raffles.

Online Poker Games In Ohio

Online poker is believed to be illegal here under the pre-internet definitions of illegal gambling on the Statutes. This has never been tested in a court room, so no legal precedents exist to back this opinion up. There have been recent issues with ‘Internet Sweepstakes Cafes’, which are under investigation. Online poker fans will be hoping that no law banning these also includes online poker games – in Florida a similar situation led to gambling on any computing devices being made illegal.

The main offshore sites still accepting US players from their Caribbean Island havens, do welcome players from Ohio. These sites are legal in their own mini-countries. Thousands of Americans safely enjoy the games at these sites every day – though you should be aware that playing is entirely at your own financial and legal risk.

What Do The Ohio Gambling Statutes Say?

Some States criminalize the ‘bet’ and others target ‘games of chance’ – Ohio makes extra sure that they have illegal gambling covered by using both definitions in their law books. Poker is specified within a list of games under the game of chance section. This would make the ‘skill game’ line of argument very difficult in this State.

Here are the key definitions, firstly the ‘bet’ ad after that the games of chance. These come from section 2915, 01 in the Ohio codes:

…the hazarding of anything of value upon the result of an event, undertaking, or contingency, but does not include a bona fide business risk…

… 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 largely by chance, but does not include bingo…

Ohio Poker – Summing It Up

With the recent opening of major State licensed casinos in the major cities – Ohio has become a genuine gambling and poker destination. Add to this the legal home games and you get the picture of what can only be described as a poker-friendly State.

Ohio look to be progressive enough in their attitude towards gambling that a future bill regulating online gambling sites could be a possibility.