Ohio Senate Approves Casino Employee Gambling Legislation

by Jim Hall

A bill that will remove prohibition on casino employees gambling within Ohio casinos has been approved by the state Senate.

In the state of Ohio, there has been a law in place for some time that has kept employees of gaming venues in the state from taking part in casino gaming. Now, a new bill is making its way through Legislature that could see thousands of new players hitting the gaming floor in the state, if the measure is able to be passed.

On Wednesday, the Ohio Senate decided to approve the measure 32 to 0 to see the prohibition against employees of the casino removed from the state laws. Ohio currently has four casino resorts of which employees are unable to take part in casino games such as roulette or slots. The law involving casino employee gambling went into effect just after the state legalized casino gaming back in 2010. Any employee who takes part in such gaming as an employee will be charged with a first-degree misdemeanor.

Understanding the Law and the New Bill

At the time of the bill passing, the state felt that the legislation would prevent corruption as well as collusion within game play. The goal was to assure the public that casinos of the state would not be cheating them.

Bill SeitzThis new bill was introduced by Representative Bill Seitz in an effort to address the irrelevance of the current law. The bill was actually introduced in 2016 and was not moved forward. Seitz left the Senate due to term limits but was elected to serve in the House where the bill was brought up again. In February, the bill was able to be approved by the house 94-3 and now it was approved by the Senate.

For this year, the bill’s language was revised to state that casino employees are only forbidden to gamble at the place where they work or affiliated properties. Basically, employees would be able to visit other properties and take part in gaming.

Large New Player Pool

The casinos of Ohio currently have over 9,000 employees. This is quite a bit of new gamblers who would be taking part in gaming if the bill is signed into law. It would be safe to say that a large number of this workforce would also be interested in casino gaming. Interestingly enough, the bill does not affect the employees who work in the racinos of the state. The new bill seeks to right this inequity.

With the current law in place, if an employee gambles at a casino, they face as many as 180 days in jail along with a fine of $1,000. A repeat offender would face felony charges over time. However, this has not been an issue as employees have not played at any casinos or faced any charges.

Ohio Casino Control Commission Executive Director Matthew Schuler, commented that after five years of regulation and enforcing of the law at the casinos of the state, there has been no case of employees from different casinos working on collusion to cheat the system. With systems of surveillance, segregated duties and internal controls that are unique to each operator, it would be difficult to even attempt.

Because of this insight, lawmakers as well as casino gaming officials and operators seem to agree that this law needs to change. According to Schuler, the new law will bring the state into alignment with neighboring jurisdictions where the same approach has proven to be fair and maintains the integrity of casino gaming.

Now the Governor of the state, John Kasich, has the ability to sign the bill into law allowing the large pool of casino employees to enjoy the same gaming activities as those who visit the venues.