The Ohio Lottery has been around for more than 4 decades, but compared to other state-run lottery systems, some would argue Ohio’s version is outdated and less productive. According to a new study commissioned by Ohio Governor John Kasich, it’s high time the organization start facilitating legal online casinos, but not before going semi-private.
The research was conducted by a New Jersey analytic firm, Spectrum Gaming Group, which was asked by the Kasich administration to study various aspects of the state’s gaming industry. These included the prospects of creating new draw-based lottery tickets, adding electronic poker tables, and the practicality of regulating online casinos in Ohio.
The research firm recommended all three, but not without certain limitations. The most notable suggestion was that the Ohio Lottery become a “quasi-public” entity.
In its current state, the now 42 year old Ohio Lottery is governed by a range of government organizations, and Spectrum says that’s having a negative effect on the operator’s ability to modernize. The study said that, by converting to a quasi-public entity, the lottery would run much more efficiently, avoiding the time consuming pitfalls of unnecessary government regulation.
Spectrum didn’t go so far as to say the lottery should be privatized, instead suggesting it be run in similar fashion as one of Kasich’s pet prjects, JobsOhio. That organization runs as a privatized economic development agency, overseen by a governor-appointed board.
According to the study, Ohio Lottery’s outdated model “is one key reason why the lottery — which is generally a strong performer — has missed opportunities to grow revenue.”
Spectrum added that, “The oversight structure leads to a very real sense that lottery management is not in control of its own future.”
If Ohio does decide to move ahead with legal online casinos, a more modernized structure will certainly be necessary. But it’s still too early in the game to predict whether or not that will happen.
At this point, the study itself is still in the draft stages, according to Ohio Lottery spokeswoman Danielle Frizzi-Babb. “There’s some fact-checking to be done and some modifications to be made.” In the meantime, she confirmed, “We are reviewing the the recommendations with our staff and the board.”
Costly Study Could Mean Greater Need for Online Casinos In Ohio
Studies of this nature can be very costly. It’s been reported that the Kasich administration paid a staggering $600,001 for the research report by Spectrum Gaming Group, and like most US states, Ohio doesn’t exactly have a buoyant budget to go throwing around.
Online casino in Ohio could potentially bring in millions of dollars worth of additional revenue, helping to pay down the cost of the study, as well as giving state tax coffers more revenue to put towards community projects, education, problem gambling treatment and prevention programs, etc.
But as Senator Bill Coley [R-West Chester] pointed out, the money spent could be all for naught if the Lottery’s foundation undergoes so much change. In the beginning, Sen. Coley, President-Elect of the National Council of Legislators from Gaming States, was opposed to spending $600k on gambling research, and now that the results are in, he’s concerned a quasi-public conversion may not be plausible.
“The change over to the public-private thing…” explained Coley, “there’s a little bit of a problem there because some of that is constitutional.
“We appreciate any input we got, but I don’t know that we would be in any real big hurry to change the organization.” He suggested Ohio could perhaps “tweak it” instead. Sen. Coley is still open to the idea, though, provided it can be proven that consumer protections and age verification can be efficiently monitored.