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Ohio gambling helpline calls triple in January

Ohio sports betting news

Distress calls to the Ohio Problem Gambling Helpline increased threefold in January compared to the amount recorded last year. The significant increase can be traced to the legalization of sports betting in the state at the start of 2023.

The Problem Gambling Network of Ohio disclosed that in January alone, 1,492 calls were made to Ohio’s helpline. The figure is 227% higher than January 2022, which recorded 456 calls and more than twice the number of phone calls recorded in December, 635.

The executive director of the state’s Problem Gambling Network, Derek Longmeier, revealed that there was a continuous increase in the calls in the months before the sports betting legalization.

“In the last few months leading up to legalized sports betting, we had seen a continued uptick,” Longmeier said.

“It’s something that we knew was increasing and something we had been monitoring, and we also know from other states that as legal forms of gambling expand, there’s going to be increased demand on services.”

Phone calls to the gambling helpline are expected to increase in the future, but Longmeier did not give an estimate for how high they could go. The executive producer promised to monitor the increase in the coming months.

Longmeier acknowledged that the expansion of gambling in the state would increase its gamblers and the issue of problem gambling. In light of that, the increased number of calls to the helpline indicates that people are receiving the help they need.

The executive director revealed that the helpline received calls from more younger people than usual and people that suffered from gambling problems for less than a year.

Cuyahoga County is responsible for around 12% of the calls, while 4% originated from Hamilton and Franklin counties. Under 2% of the callers were from Butler and Montgomery counties, while Dayton region counties accounted for less than 1%. Approximately 52% of the callers refused to reveal their demographic location.

Ohio Casino Control Commission director of communications Jessica Franks divulged that prior to the launch of sports gambling, the state had made efforts to raise awareness about the helpline and remove the stigma associated with seeking help.

“Ohio has been working to raise awareness about the Problem Gambling Helpline prior to the launch of sports gaming and de-stigmatize seeking help,” Franks stated.

“Some calls to the helpline are unrelated to seeking help, but this is still an opportunity to reach out to these individuals and let them know about the resources that are available.”

The Senior Manager of Public Health’s Recovery Services program, William Roberts, revealed that while people tend to avoid going to government-funded services with gambling concerns, there has been a significant increase in visits to private practices.

“Currently, our numbers have not increased greatly. However, we continue to anticipate an increase in numbers, and we continue to screen and educate our clients about the risk of problem gambling,” Roberts said.

“One of our staff members who also has a private practice, her numbers have tripled thus far in terms of problem gambling clients, and she’s at capacity.”

Roberts claimed that the demand for problem gambling aid would only increase due to the continued closeness and accessibility of gambling.

“Usually when problem gamblers have a problem, it’s gotten severe before they seek help. We’re expecting that to happen, especially the way some of these programs are advertising, giving people free bets to get them started,” Roberts added.

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