Ohio’s efforts in problem gambling prevention and treatment were recently honored at the 2023 National Conference on Gambling Addiction and Responsible Gambling.
Ohio earned five awards at the 37th annual conference hosted by the National Council on Problem Gambling, which was held in late July in Washington, D.C. Ohio responsible gambling initiatives and resources are often recognized by national organizations.
The awards come seven months after a major expansion of Ohio gambling options. Legalized sports betting — via online and retail sportsbooks, as well as hundreds of sports betting kiosks located in bars, restaurants, stores and other venues across the state — launched in the Buckeye State on Jan. 1.
Representatives from Ohio for Responsible Gambling attended conference
Ohio was represented at the conference by nearly 40 professionals from the fields of research, government and healthcare, as well as the gambling industry. The Ohio delegation included representatives from the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, Ohio Casino Control Commission, Ohio Lottery Commission and Ohio State Racing Commission, the four state agencies that oversee the Ohio for Responsible Gambling (ORG) organization.
“Ohio’s collaborative efforts to provide information and resources on responsible gambling is a testament to Ohio for Responsible Gambling’s shared goal of helping Ohioans,” OCCC executive director Matt Schuler said in a press release about the awards. “The Commission is grateful that the work of ORG and its partners is being recognized by those in the national prevention and treatment community.”
The five awards are further testament to Ohio’s role as a national leader in the promotion of responsible gambling, as well as its problem gambling prevention and treatment efforts.
“The Ohio Lottery Commission is proud to partner with other state agencies and organizations in the development of tools and resources to teach our residents how to participate in gaming in a fun and responsible manner,” Ohio Lottery Commission director Michelle Gillcrist said. “Being recognized with these awards is a testament to our commitment to being on the forefront of responsible gaming, problem gambling prevention and education that can be adopted by others.”
Ohio problem gambling and responsible gambling campaigns honored
Three of the awards Ohio won at this year’s National Conference on Gambling Addiction and Responsible Gambling were for statewide media campaigns promoting responsible gambling and problem gambling prevention initiatives.
- The Public Awareness Campaign Award was given to the Ohio for Responsible Gambling’s “Make the Call” campaign, which promoted the Ohio Problem Gambling Helpline.
The helpline (1-800-589-9966) is available 24 hours a day for those seeking problem gambling help. Thanks to the helpline’s warm transfer program, callers can be directly connected to trained counselors.
From January 2022 to January 2023, calls to the Ohio Problem Gambling Helpline increased 227%.
- ORG’s print media campaign for its Pause Before You Play initiative received the People’s Choice Award, given to “the most popular print public awareness message in the past year.”
Focused on Ohio’s new sports betting landscape, the Pause Before You Play awareness campaign urges bettors to take a step back and have a strategy before engaging in wagering on sports. Besides print, the campaign also included video PSAs and provided toolkits for free to organizations and professionals across the state.
Pause Before You Play was an extension of ORG’s Get Set Before You Bet campaign, which won the People’s Choice Award at least year’s conference.
- The 2023 Corporate Website Award went to TimeOutOhio.com.
Operated by the Ohio Lottery and Casino Control commissions, the Time Out Ohio site is home to the state’s newly rebranded voluntary exclusion program, which lets Ohio residents ban themselves from Ohio casinos, racinos and sports gaming for one year, five years or permanently. Before Time Out Ohio’s website, those who wished to participate in the voluntary exclusion program had to do so in person.
Nearly 5,000 Ohioans have utilized the state’s voluntary exclusion program, including 150 sign-ups in the earliest days of Ohio sports betting.
Late Ohio problem gambling prevention specialist also honored
Also honored at this year’s National Conference on Gambling Addiction and Responsible Gambling was Amanda Jo Burke, Ph.D., an assistant professor at Kent State University and onetime problem gambling prevention specialist at Townhall II, a nonprofit provider in Portage County. She died unexpectedly in December of last year at the age of 41.
Dr. Burke was posthumously awarded the 2023 Jim Wuelfing Annual Award for Prevention, which honors “annual achievement in advocacy, development, integration, outreach, research or training in the area of prevention of problem gambling.” Derek Longmeier, executive director of the Problem Gambling Network of Ohio, won the Jim Wuelfing Award at least year’s conference.
Rounding out the Ohio-affiliated awards doled at the 2023 conference was Toledo’s WNWO-TV, which was honored for its March 2022 story about Steve Kapela, manager of gambling treatment and prevention at Northern Ohio outpatient treatment facility the Zepf Center.
The news story won the conference’s “Media Award,” which is given to news outlets for coverage of problem gambling issues.
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