Ohio Follows Indiana’s Lead On Casino Reopenings, Safety Guidelines

Posted on June 24, 2020

Another one of Indiana’s neighbors has reopened its casinos.

Casinos in Ohio reopened their doors on June 19, after COVID-19 concerns shut them in mid-March.

Now that Ohio is back up to speed, Illinois is the only state bordering Indiana to go without casinos for the time being.

The Hoosier State reopened its brick-and-mortar spots on June 15, just before Ohio. That gave Indiana mobile betting sites and casinos a solid, but fleeting advantage for a handful of days.

Competition for casinos near Cincinnati

The gambling industry in Indiana had a head start on its eastern neighbor.

With casinos closed, Ohio residents near the Indiana border still had gambling options, especially for those living near Cincinnati.

On the Indiana side of the border, Hollywood Casino, Belterra Casino and Rising Star Casino are all less than an hour away from Cincinnati. That gave the trio a leg up for a handful of days.

The short-lived monopoly in the area is already gone. If you were in Cincinnati and wanted to gamble, Indiana casinos were your only option. That would have been a nice advantage if Ohio hadn’t reopened later in that same week.

However, southeast Indiana isn’t the only area with that kind of advantage. Since Illinois casinos are not open, northwest Indiana has a foothold.

Casinos like Ameristar, Horseshoe Hammond and Majestic Star already receive some extra foot traffic due to their proximity to Chicago. With the state still shut down, the casinos could have even more out-of-state bettors than usual.

But even though casinos in the region have an advantage that the Cincinnati area has lost, sports betting is still a big draw for Ohio residents.

Ohio is still working on legalizing sports betting and could end up making significant progress this summer.

In the meantime, gamblers will still be willing to come to Indiana to place their bets. Those Cincinnati-area spots continue to have an out-of-state draw.

So, even with casinos open on both sides of the border, Indiana will have extra foot traffic.

And as more sports leagues return to action, the number of Ohio residents coming to Indiana for sports betting could return to pre-pandemic levels.

Ohio adopts Indiana’s casino rules

Indiana and Ohio have pretty similar rules in place for casinos.

The Indiana Gaming Commission (IGC) calls the shots in the Hoosier State.

The IGC released its reopening requirements for casinos in May. The list is pretty extensive, but the safety measures don’t go quite as far as some other states.

For example, some states require face masks to be worn at all times by gamblers, which isn’t the case in Indiana.

Ohio followed Indiana’s lead when it comes to its list of reopening requirements. The set of rules that casinos have to follow is almost identical in both states.

They both include rules about opening at half capacity and disinfecting high-touch surfaces like kiosks and ATMs.

However, there are a pair of noteworthy differences between the two states. The first is the requirement of Plexiglas barriers.

Ohio casinos have to keep employees 6 feet apart. If they can’t, then they’re required to install the barriers to help with social distancing. The IGC doesn’t require Indiana casinos to install barriers.

The other meaningful difference is the use of temperature checks. Casinos in Indiana take the temperature of everyone to make sure that no one has a fever. Ohio casinos are off the hook for that requirement.

Without temperature checks, the lines should move faster at Ohio’s casinos.

Every state has different rules for its reopening casinos, and for the most part, Indiana and Ohio are pretty similar.

For Hoosiers, the extra safety precautions will be in place until at least July 4. Ohio residents, on the other hand, may have to wait for a while. Gov. Mike DeWine hasn’t announced an end date for restrictions on businesses yet.

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Jake Garza

Jake Garza is a sports writer based in Indianapolis, IN. He's an Indiana University graduate who's spent time as a sports reporter covering teams at the prep, collegiate and professional levels.

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