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Off-track betting in Ohio

Ohio off-track betting is rather limited, but there is always the possibility of future expansion. On this page, we’ll cover off-track betting locations, how to make a wager, and more.

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Off-track betting (often shortened to “OTB”) is a popular way to bet on horse races in Ohio. In 2022, OTB and simulcast wagering accounted for almost 85% of Ohio’s horse race betting handle.

With the increase in online horse betting in Ohio, allowing players to place a bet without having to travel to an in-person facility (either on- or off-track), the OTB industry has taken a bit of a hit, but there is still strong local support. In this piece, we’ll explain how off-track betting works, where you can find Ohio OTB venues, and provide other information to know before you head to an off-track betting facility.

Off-track betting locations in Ohio

As of writing, there is only one off-track betting location in Ohio. Should that change, we will update this page accordingly.

OTB

Address

Cedar Downs

1935 Cleveland Rd, Sandusky, OH 44870

Off-track betting explained

The term “off-track betting” covers all horse race betting away from the courses. This can include in-person wagering at an off-track location with simulcasting or wagering through a web-based platform or mobile horse betting app.

For a time, off-track betting was only permitted in Nevada, but in 1970, New York permitted the practice. It wasn’t until 1978 that the Interstate Horseracing Act allowed for off-track betting expansion across the U.S.

The Act required off-track betting revenue to be split between the OTB parlors, horse owners, track owners, and the states where the OTB venues operated; it also required OTB facilities to operate no closer than 60 miles from a racetrack.

When the Act was modified in 2000 to allow for electronic wagering, OTBs still remained popular as mobile betting apps didn’t exist at the time. However, as such apps have become more popular (and in some cases are now integrated with sports betting apps), OTB parlors have taken a bit of a financial hit. By partnering with sportsbooks in states where sports betting has been legalized, the OTB industry has stabilized a bit and should continue to remain a popular gambling option.

How do I place a bet at Ohio OTB locations?

Placing a bet at an Ohio OTB location is relatively straightforward, but there are a few steps you can take along the way to increase your chances of winning. Here’s how you can be prepared to make wise wagers while off-track betting.

  1. Study the races: Before you ever show up at an OTB facility, you should study the race(s) you’re planning to wager on so you can make an informed bet. Gathering info about the horses, jockeys, trainers, track conditions, weather, and betting line movement can all play a part in helping you decide whether there’s value in backing a certain horse.
  2. Decide on the type of bet you’re going to play: Win, place, and show bets are rather common wagers to play, but some of the more exotic wagers like exactas and trifectas were first offered at OTB locations and can be both a fun and profitable addition to your betting slip. Understanding the different types of wagers will help you balance the chances of winning with the profitability of your bets.
  3. Travel to the venue: We’re assuming you’re planning to travel to an OTB parlor for the purposes of these steps, but if you’re using an online platform or betting app, you’ll need to set up an account and make a deposit before you can place a wager. At an OTB location, you’ll need to have a photo ID on hand to be able to make your bet(s).
  4. Place your bets: Once you’re at the venue, you’ll need to approach the betting window with the track number, race number, bet type, and horse numbers on which you’re making your wagers. Make sure to check all these numbers carefully so everything is accurate when crafting your bet slip.
  5. Wait for the races to finish and collect your winnings: Most of the time, you’ll be able to watch your bets play out via simulcast. After the races are over and the times are finalized, you’ll be able to return to the betting wager to collect any winnings on your bet (you’ll also need your ID to cash out).

Expert advice when off-track betting in Ohio

We asked our horse race wagering experts for their advice when off-track betting in Ohio. These are their top tips and the logic behind their wisdom.

  • Balance betting favorites with the field: Horses that are the favorite or second-favorite in the odds win races somewhere between 44-52% of the time (with the range covering shifts in the true “favorite” due to the betting action). This means that around 48-56% of the time, a horse that isn’t among the top two will win the race. Mixing favorites and underdogs will help to balance betting value with winning likelihood.
  • Research the trainers: Knowing who is training the horses can be an even bigger benefit than familiarizing yourself with the jockey. Looking at things like recent form, consistency of performances, and the types of horses they usually train will help you find likelier winners.
  • Past races don't guarantee future results, but they help: Looking at the paths horses take is important in understanding the way they’re likely to run. What gate did the horse start in and how did that impact their navigation of the course? Do they tend to wait through the race for an extra burst at the home stretch or set the pace out of the gate? How does the horse handle track adversity like getting squeezed at the start or being forced to go wide while nearing the finish line?
  • Make a plan and stick to it: If you’re at an off-track betting facility watching races unfold, it can be easy to get distracted from your wagers with all the activity around you. Perhaps you hear people talking about a certain horse that makes you want to abandon your research and change your wager, or maybe you go on a hot streak or a run of losses. The more level-headed you can remain throughout your betting experience, the more likely you are to reinforce responsible gambling habits.

FAQ

Are there any OTB locations in Cincinnati?

No, there are no OTB locations in Cincinnati. The only OTB location in Ohio is in Sandusky. Off-track betting parlors must be at least 60 miles away from a horse racetrack.

Do all racetracks in Ohio have OTB locations?

No, race tracks in Ohio do not have OTB locations. Due to the Interstate Horseracing Act, OTB locations must be at least 60 miles away from a racetrack.

Are there age restrictions for participating in OTB in Ohio?

Yes, there are age restrictions for participating in OTB in Ohio. Bettors in the Buckeye State must be at least 18 years old to make a horse racing wager.

Can I bet on races outside of Ohio at OTB locations?

Yes, you can bet on races outside of Ohio at OTB locations. Many off-track betting sites will offer odds on simulcast races from OH tracks as well as from events across the country and around the world.