Ohio’s Online Gambling Industry
Despite having a gambling industry of its own, Ohio has not yet offered online casinos or poker. In fact, state officials have expressed apprehensions that the internet may be used to bring illegal gambling into their jurisdictions. However, the state is quickly moving toward offering more robust online gaming options.
The online gamling industry has been a hot topic of late. In fact, in December of 2002, the General Accounting Office, the predecessor to the Government Accountability Office, published a report entitled Internet Gambling: Overview of Issues. The report outlines various laws and regulations, such as the Online Gambling Regulation Act of 2001. The act is aimed at regulating online gambling by providing penalties for illegal online activity. The state is now licensing businesses to operate. The act has also received a thumbs up from the World Trade Organization.
Although it’s not necessarily a given that state or federal law has a lot to do with the sexiest online game of chance, it’s not surprising to find that players have taken advantage of interstate facilities for more questionable purposes. The best way to combat this is to implement a national approach to regulating online gambling. The Ohio Casino Control Commission is currently in the process of granting licenses to gaming businesses. In turn, the commission can suspend or revoke such licenses as needed. The state has made some good moves in this direction, most notably passing HB29 into law in early December. The bill contains the first-ever statewide gambling regulatory statute, whose perks include the ability to fine gambling operators who violate the rules. Ultimately, the state’s regulatory powers are being strained by interstate and foreign elements that are frustrating its efforts.
The online gambling industry has also been a target of Congress’s attention. In addition to the above-mentioned OGRA, the Senate has passed the Digital Gaming Tax Act, which will raise the stakes for online operators. The new bill includes a statutory definition of online gaming, and prohibits the use of a computer or other electronic device to facilitate the unauthorized use of another person’s computer. In the wake of the act’s passage, PayPal, a major payment processor, issued a warning that it would be held responsible if it were discovered to have been involved in an illegal online gambling operation. Other federal law enforcement agencies have also stepped up their game in this area, as well. In April of 2011, the federal Department of Justice, Department of Treasury, and the United States Postal Service joined forces in a sting that netted $3.2 million in suspected illegal online gambling profits. A few months later, the U.S. marshals seized a similar sum from a Costa Rican casino operation. Other than the obvious telecommunications services, there are few federal laws that aren’t directly or indirectly implicated by the act of gambling on the internet.