Q: Who oversees casinos in Ohio?
A: Ohio voters authorized casino gaming in 2009 by passing a constitutional amendment that approved four freestanding casinos at designated locations in Cincinnati, Cleveland, Toledo and Columbus. The Ohio Casino Control Commission (“Commission”) was created in 2011 after the Casino Control Law was passed. It is a bipartisan regulatory body and law enforcement agency that oversees the casino gaming industry in Ohio and is made up of seven commissioners, an executive director, and supporting staff. The Commission has authority over licensing, regulation, investigation and enforcement of casino gaming rules as well as all persons who participate in casino gaming in Ohio.
Q: What laws affect Ohio casinos?
A: The Ohio Constitution, Article XV, Section 6(C), grants the Commission authority over “all persons participating in casino gaming.” The Ohio Revised Code, Chapter 3772, and administrative rules give the Commission broad authority to regulate and ensure the integrity of casino gaming. The casinos also have their own internal controls, which the Commission must approve.
Q: How much money do the casinos earn and what taxes do they pay?
A: Each month, the Commission releases a monthly revenue report that includes total revenue at each casino and how it is divided among table games and slot machines. The monthly revenue reports can be accessed at the Commission’s website: http://casinocontrol.ohio.gov.
Casinos pay a tax on gross casino revenue at a rate of 33 percent, in addition to any other taxes or fees that casinos must pay. Also, casinos must submit daily tax returns to the Ohio Department of Taxation and remit payments every day that banks are open for business.
The Commission works with the Ohio Department of Taxation to ensure the casinos report accurate tax return data. Taxes collected are disbursed to the following funds: 51 percent to the County Fund, 34 percent to the Student Fund, 5 percent to the Host City Fund, 3 percent each to the Ohio State Racing Commission and the Ohio Casino Control Commission, and 2 percent each to the Law Enforcement Training Fund and the Problem Gambling and Addictions Fund.
Q: How old must I be to get into an Ohio casino?
A: No person under 21 is permitted to wager or be present in areas designated for casino gaming in a casino facility.
Q: If I win money at a casino, do I have to pay tax on it?
A: In Ohio, if you win enough to trigger the completion of IRS form W-2G or 1042-S ($1,200 or more not reduced by the wager for slot winnings; more than $5,000 reduced by the wager or buy-in for table win; or $600 or more if the winnings are more than 300 times the amount wagered or are subject to federal income tax withholding), then the casino must deduct and withhold Ohio income tax from your winnings at a rate of 4 percent of the amount you won.
Q: Who can open a casino in Ohio?
A: Casino gaming is authorized at four casino facilities, each at a designated location within the cities of Cincinnati, Cleveland and Toledo, and within Franklin County (Columbus). Anybody who offers casino gaming at a location that is not authorized is violating Ohio law and could face criminal and/or regulatory consequences. All four of the constitutionally authorized casinos are currently in full operation: JACK Cincinnati Casino, JACK Cleveland Casino, Hollywood Casino Toledo, and Hollywood Casino Columbus. Therefore, no additional casinos may be opened.
Q: Who operates the Ohio casinos?
A: JACK Entertainment, LLC, owns and operates JACK Cincinnati Casino and JACK Cleveland Casino. Penn National Gaming, Inc. owns and operates Hollywood Casino Columbus and Hollywood Casino Toledo.
Q: What licenses are required to operate a casino in Ohio?
A: The Casino Control Law requires every person conducting or participating in casino gaming to be licensed, including casino operators, management companies, gaming-related vendors, key employees and casino gaming employees. The Commission conducts suitability investigations, including criminal and financial background reviews, of each applicant to determine eligibility for licensure to ensure that only suitable persons are involved in Ohio’s casinos.
All suitability investigations result in a staff recommendation to the Commission to grant or deny a license. Suitability is an ongoing requirement for all licensees and the Commission is authorized to reopen a licensing investigation at any time. Finally, all license holders must apply for renewal and undergo a new suitability investigation every three years.
This “Law You Can Use” consumer legal information column was provided by the Ohio State Bar Association. It was prepared by Michelle Siba, deputy general counsel for the Ohio Casino Control Commission. Articles appearing in this column are intended to provide broad, general information about the law. This article is not intended to be legal advice. Before applying this information to a specific legal problem, readers are urged to seek advice from an attorney.