While a recent Supreme Court ruling struck down a federal law that effectively had limited sports wagering to Nevada, don’t plan any betting sprees just yet. On May 14, the justices voted 6-3 to overturn the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), effectively allowing states to decide if they will allow sports wagering and in what capacity. Ohio has not introduced a bill to legalize sports gambling in any form at this time.
“The legalization of sports gambling requires an important policy choice, but the choice is not ours to make,” Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. wrote in his majority paper. “Congress can regulate sports gambling directly, but if it elects not to do so, each state is free to act on its own.”
Research on other forms of gambling demonstrates that the more options for gambling that are readily available to a person, the higher the likelihood that he or she may develop a problem with gambling. For example, Nevada has the highest problem gambling rate in the U.S.
Many supporters say that a tax on legalized gambling could pump money into Ohio’s economy. However, the potential profits from that tax are expected to be very low as most gambling funds go into the pool that is used to pay out bets wagered, along with a small portion that supports the sponsoring organization.
Governor John Kasich’s administration has repeatedly stated that it is not pursuing an expansion of gambling in Ohio and is now in the process of studying the potential impact of sports betting. Yet, a decision may not come until Ohio’s next governor takes office.
Should Ohio allow sports betting, safeguards will need to be in place to prevent underage gambling—currently casino and video lottery players must be at least 21 years old, and 18 is the minimum age for lottery and horse racing wagers. Where and how bets can be placed will be a critical factor.
Ohio for Responsible Gambling and the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services will continue to work to ensure that the state has sufficient funding available to prevent problem gambling and to treat individuals and families affected negatively by problem gambling.
Ohio adults are reminded that IF they choose to gamble, they should do so responsibly and remember to practice healthy habits, such as limiting the amount of time and money spent on gambling, knowing the risks before gambling, and knowing where to find help for problem gambling. Ohioans are also encouraged to take the Responsible Gambling Quiz to assess their risk of problematic gambling activity.
If you or a loved one are struggling with a gambling disorder, there IS help. Please check the Get Help page on BeforeYouBet.org for resources in your area or call the Problem Gambling Helpline at 1-800-589-9966.