Ohio: Major casino operators oppose legislation that allows ‘under-regulated’ electronic bingo Howard Stutz, CDC Gaming Reports · May 4, 2021 at 8:01 am Three of Ohio’s major casino operators have banded together in opposition to pending legislation that would allow veterans and fraternal organizations in the state to operate under-regulated electronic bingo machines. In a statement Monday, the group “Get Gaming Right Ohio” – which is led by led by JACK Entertainment, MGM Resorts International, and Penn National Gaming – said the nearly 900 locations that could house the “underregulated casino-style slot machines” would hurt education and other state and local programs funded by tax revenues from regulated casinos and racinos. “Regulated casino gaming upholds the most stringent standards around responsible gaming, fair play, and consumer protection,” American Gaming Association Vice President of Government Relations & Gaming Policy Jessica Feil, said in a statement. AGA Vice President Jessica Feil Ohio has 11 commercial casinos – four stand-alone casinos and seven racetrack casinos. According to the AGA, the industry provides an economic impact to the state of $3.61 billion, supports almost 20,000 jobs, and produced $1.44 billion in gaming revenue during 2020. The “Get Gaming Right” coalition represents seven of the state’s casinos – MGM Northfield, JACK Cleveland, and JACK Thistletown, and Penn’s two Hollywood branded casinos in Toledo and Columbus and two racinos. The coalition said the casinos and racinos contribute $343 million annually to education through video lottery payments. “Get Gaming Right Ohio” – which is also backing efforts to legalize sports betting in the state – cited an independent study by Spectrum Gaming Group that found a distributed gaming model, such as Illinois, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia, increases gaming opportunities, but causes a decrease in state and education tax revenue. The states mentioned in the statement, however, offer traditional slot machines, not electronic bingo. The legislation – House Bill 65 – has nine sponsors, eight Republicans and one Democrat. It was introduced in February. According to the legislation, the proposed system requires a licensed distributor or manufacturer of bingo supplies to obtain an “electronic instant bingo endorsement” in order to distribute or manufacture electronic instant bingo systems. The legislation also requires a manufacturer to submit the electronic instant bingo system to an independent testing laboratory and to Ohio’s Attorney General for approval before the manufacturer can provide the system for use in the state. “Right now, these machines are not authorized at all, so there is no regulatory regime in place,” Feil said in an email statement released by the Washington D.C.-based AGA. “The proposed legislation attempts to create a regulatory system, but it falls woefully short of requirements necessary to keep consumers safe. It does not provide for game testing or responsible gaming measures that ensure fair gameplay and keep consumers safe.” Feil said the tax rate “is well below that of comparable machines at regulated casinos, which undermines the casino gaming industry and in turn impairs tax revenue flowing to the state.” The coalition said the Spectrum study found the organizations seeking the electronic bingo games, “have less experience and insufficient ability to uphold the state’s strict regulatory standards to ensure responsible gaming for Ohio.” In 2020, the AGA and the Association of Gaming Equipment Manufacturers said there could be as many as 200,000 unregulated slot machines in the U.S. Missouri lottery officials told the National Council of Legislators from Gaming States conference in San Diego that same year the machines cost the state at least $50 million last year in lost revenues. In the statement from “Get Gaming Right Ohio,” Feil said, “Underregulated gaming machines put the most vulnerable at risk, preying on those with problem gambling habits while undermining and diminishing the economic contributions of the legal, regulated casino gaming industry.” Ohio State Representative Jeff LaRe, who is the lead sponsor of the legislation, introduced similar legislation in 2020. He said at the time the bill “would modernize and bring increased integrity to Ohio’s charitable gaming laws by legalizing electronic bingo games. Passing this bill would mean support to veterans and non-profit organizations, further empowering them to make an even greater impact on their communities.” Howard Stutz is the executive editor of CDC Gaming Reports. He can be reached at email@example.com. Follow @howardstutz on Twitter.