Checking In on Ohio’s E-bingo Operators After Five Months

  • Ohio’s e-bingo operators had to report their incomes on August 31.
  • E-bingo launched on April 1 in Ohio after a nine-year court battle.
  • It is legal under charitable gaming laws included in Ohio’s sports betting bill.

CINCINNATI – Ohio’s e-bingo operators were required to report their incomes and expenses by August 31, meaning there will soon be additional information on the viability of e-bingo in Ohio.

E-bingo launched on April 1 in Ohio, and is available at more than 900 different fraternal organizations in the state.

Mike Milam, the bookkeeper for VFW Post 6069, which operates five of the online bingo machines in Lebanon, Ohio, believes the income is necessary for the fraternal order to function.

“Without the charitable gaming, fraternal orders would basically go out of business,” Milam said.

He specifically pointed out that the VFW Post gets 25 cents out of every dollar spent on the machines they operate.

“Our big thing around here is, when you play we all win,” said Milam. “Whether it’s the (paper bingo pull) tickets or the machines, every dollar you play supports the post. And we get basically 25 cents out of every dollar.”

The Fight Over Charitable Gaming In Ohio

It took nine years for these kinds of machines to be regulated in Ohio, with the battle stretching back to 2013.

In 2013, current Ohio Governor Mike DeWine was serving as the Attorney General. In his view, these types of online bingo machines were more-or-less slot machines, with no real relation to bingo.

The VFW and other groups operating these charitable gaming machines attempted to counter DeWine legally, which began a nine-year legal fight.

This fight was resolved in 2022, after some changes to the machines were made. They no longer involve a slot- style wheel, and they now are referred to as electronic pull tabs.

Ohio’s outlook on the subject seems to be that they took something that operated in a gray market, and regulated it so that it would be a bit safer for everyone involved.

“What we’re really doing here is modernizing existing bingo and doing it in a way that’s transparent,” said Daniel Fausey of the Ohio Attorney General’s office.

The regulations on the machines affect more than just the machines themselves, and include time limits, age limits and the display of the gambling helpline number in the vicinity of the machines.