The State of Ohio is unique in this regard because participating in unauthorized forms of gambling is illegal for mere players only if they are doing it as a, ‘Substantial source of income or livelihood,’:

2915.02 Gambling.

(A) No person shall do any of the following:

(1) Engage in bookmaking, or knowingly engage in conduct that facilitates bookmaking;

(2) Establish, promote, or operate or knowingly engage in conduct that facilitates any game of chance conducted for profit or any scheme of chance;

(3) Knowingly procure, transmit, exchange, or engage in conduct that facilitates the procurement, transmission, or exchange of information for use in establishing odds or determining winners in connection with bookmaking or with any game of chance conducted for profit or any scheme of chance;

(4) Engage in betting or in playing any scheme or game of chance as a substantial source of income or livelihood;

Therefore, it can be surmised that playing online is perfectly legal as long as the player is not doing so as a substantial source of income or livelihood. It is difficult to postulate what the state might decide constitutes a, ‘Substantial source,’ because it is not made clear in that specific part of the code.  

Gambling can either be a Misdemeanor of the First Degree or a Fifth Degree Felony if the individual has any prior gambling convictions. With respect to first degree misdemeanors, an individual can face up to six months in jail and fines of up to $1,000. With respect to fifth degree felonies, an individual can face fines of up to $2,500 and six-twelve months in prison.

In 2014, there was an arrest in Ohio in connection with nearly twenty illegal gambling locations of an individual who had previously received a year of probation for prior offenses along those lines.

In 2010, an illegal high-stakes poker game was busted up and over one million dollars confiscated in connection with the arrests of players and the owner of the establishment alike.

Last year, eight individuals were charged with the distribution of illegal gambling machines as well as some individuals who were charged with operating them.

In nearby Steubenville, charges were very recently handed down to an individual who participated in an illegal bookmaking enterprise that had 1.5 million dollars seized from it justlast year.

There were also a number of instances in which illegal, ‘Internet Cafes,’ were raided and busted up, but we can find no instance of mere online players ever being arrested for any reason.

Ultimately, Ohio laws would seem to indicate that, while participating as a mere player, unlawful gambling is only punishable if one receives substantial income or uses it as a substantial source of livelihood. In any event, nobody appears to have ever been arrested in connection with acting a s a mere player at an online casino, and all efforts to stamp out illegal gambling have focused on operators in the state rather than mere players.  

With that said, Ohio is one state that goes to serious lengths to go after operators of unlawful gambling enterprises, and that cannot be completely ignored. Therefore, we will consider the restrictions against online gambling in the state light.


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