The launch of legal sports betting in Ohio, combined with the casino and racino options available in the state is a recipe for high rates of problem gambling.
However, people in the Buckeye State are using Ohio responsible gambling resources now more than ever before.
According to data from the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, report of problem gambling situations is at an all-time high. However, officials believe that Ohio has plenty of resources for those dealing with gambling addiction, and Ohioans are putting those resources to use.
Ohio problem gambling helpline sees 70% increase in calls
Amid the rapid expansion of the sports gambling and gaming industry, Ohio officials say the state has established itself as a national leader in the promotion of responsible gaming and the prevention and treatment of gambling disorders.
The Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services recently presented its problem gambling services annual report and plan to the Ohio Casino Control Commission. The report includes the results of the 2022 Ohio Gambling Survey.
One highlight in the report was that since the launch of legal sports betting in Ohio earlier this year, the Ohio Problem Gambling helpline has seen a 70% increase in calls. Experts say more people are seeing the resources available and therefore, more people are reaching out for help.
The department also highlighted the number of times people have been reached by community-based prevention and responsible/problem gambling messages on social media. In 2023, there were over 21 million social media impressions for Ohio responsible gambling resources. Officials say 2023 brought a stronger focus to increase presence on social media platforms to reach the target audience more effectively.
Gambling has become easier with the launch of online Ohio sportsbooks. Addiction experts say they are going to use the results of the most recent survey as a baseline so they have an understanding of what gambling behaviors looked like before and after the launch of legal sports betting in Ohio.
More opportunities to bet increases the potential for more at-risk gamblers
The survey helps addiction experts develop strategies for awareness and prevention efforts. Experts say the jump in at-risk gamblers in the state is due in part to there being more opportunities to bet than ever before.
In Ohio, there are currently 20 online sportsbooks operating in the state. There are also 15 live retail sportsbooks
inside casinos, racinos or venues near sports stadiums.
There are four brick-and-mortar casinos in Ohio on top of the state’s seven racinos that offer horse racing as well. Ohio online casinos are not legal, but that will likely change sooner rather than later.
Meanwhile, social and sweepstakes sites allow residents to play casino games online. Sweepstakes sites offer a chance to win real money, even though they don’t offer the full casino experience.
The 2022 Ohio Gambling Survey notes how some counties are struggling with problem gambling more than others. Trumbull County, for example, has a higher percentage of problem gambling than the state does.
According to the survey, about 3.5% of the county’s adult population has a serious gambling problem. That’s compared with the state average of 2.8%. The two most common forms of gambling for at-risk gamblers in the county were lottery and sports betting. The Hollywood Gaming at Mahoning Valley Race Course is the only gambling venue in close proximity to Trumbull County.
For those experiencing problem gambling, help is available. You can contact the Ohio Problem Gambling Helpline anytime, day or night, by calling 1-800-589-9966.