COLUMBUS – Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine issued the following statement on the issuance of Opinion 2018-012 to Cuyahoga County Prosecuting Attorney Michael O’Malley:
“Last month, Prosecutor O’Malley asked my office for a formal advisory opinion regarding ‘Queen of Hearts’ games, such as the one played at Grayton Road Tavern which reportedly resulted in a prize pool of over $5 million. The request asked my office to look at whether the game complied with the law if the game retained a portion of the prize pool from one ‘Queen of Hearts’ board to be paid to the winner of the next board, as was reportedly the case at Grayton Road Tavern.
“Based upon the information provided by the prosecutor, games such as this would not violate the law if the game had a meticulous and defined set of rules, all money collected from participants was distributed to winners by the game’s final round, and the proprietor did not take a cut of the prize pool.
“It is important to note that ‘Queen of Hearts’ games are not regulated by any state office, including the Ohio Attorney General’s Office. Local law enforcement has authority to investigate any of these games or claims made by proprietors. Our opinion was based upon current law and the information provided by the prosecutor. I certainly understand concerns about games such as this with large prize pools but without any oversight to protect consumers. In light of the lack of protection for consumers, I would encourage the Ohio General Assembly to review these games.”