Problem Gambling Awareness Month: Number of Ohioans reaching out for help reaching record highs

In Ohio, the urge to gamble is greater for some this year with the recent passage of gambling laws.
Published: Mar. 20, 2023 at 4:02 PM EDT
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OHIO (WSAZ) - Basketball fans know there aren’t many events that bring the thrill quite like March Madness. Fans stay on the edge of their seats, living and dying by every play for teams they may not normally root for -- all for the bets in the brackets.

In Ohio, the urge to gamble is greater for some this year with the recent passage of gambling laws.

“For Ohio data, one in 10 Ohioans who gamble are at risk for developing a gambling problem,” said Derek Longmeier with Problem Gambling Network of Ohio. “Looking specifically at sports betting, that number goes from one in 10 to one in four.”

The Problem Gambling Network of Ohio offers gambling resources for those who need them, especially with new laws passed.

“The big change in Ohio has been legalized sports betting which has led to an increase in calls and a demand for services,” Longmeier said.

From this time last year, Longmeier says there has been a 227% increase in callers to Ohio Problem Gambling Helpline.

“Just looking at the call volume from December 2022 to January, we’re looking at record numbers now,” he said.

So when does it become a problem?

Experts say one red flag is if you start relying on it as an income source.

“Where it becomes even more risky is when people, then people try to win back their losses,” Longmeier said. “The odds are really that you’re not going to win and you should really focus on the fun.”

Experts say the most common issues problem gamblers face have to do with money and with loved ones.

“Just looking at all the aspects you have in life and if gambling is taking up too much space it’s probably time to reassess that.”

The number for the Ohio Problem Gambling Helpline is 800-GAMBLER.

The number works 24 hours a day and it can be for those struggling or their loved ones.