Responsible Gambling in Ohio
It’s an exciting time for those who enjoy gambling. Gambling expansion continues to occur throughout the country. Such is the case in Ohio, as lawmakers consider legalizing new forms of gambling as well as how to develop further gambling options already available.
A large expansion is coming soon to the state, as sports betting is coming to Ohio on Jan. 1, 2023.
With such expansion, however, comes an increased need for Ohioans to educate themselves about responsible gambling. Both patrons and providers need to know what constitutes responsible gambling and how to identify and prevent problem gambling.
In order for gambling to be a fun and positive experience, it must be done with a complete understanding of the risks involved. Both players and operators must be constantly mindful of the potential dangers associated with gambling. Otherwise, gambling can produce truly devastating effects upon individuals and their loved ones.
Here is more information about responsible gambling and problem gambling, including resources for those in Ohio seeking information and help.
Ohio resources for responsible and problem gambling
Let’s start with some of the many resources in Ohio where people can obtain information about responsible gambling and how to get help for problem gambling.
Ohio Lottery’s Play Responsibly initiative
The Ohio Lottery Commission provides a wealth of information on the Play Responsibly page of the lottery’s website. There, visitors will find links to treatment programs, problem gambling facts, warning signs, and other resources.
Users will also find a link to the Ohio Voluntary Exclusion Program. Like other states, Ohio enables problem gamblers to self-exclude themselves from the state’s gambling venues. In Ohio, individuals can ban themselves from the state’s seven racinos and four casinos for a period of one year or five years, or even for life.
Ohio for Responsible Gambling
Another gambling resources in the state is Ohio for Responsible Gambling. The initiative actually brings together resources from four different state agencies:
- Ohio Lottery Commission
- Ohio Casino Control Commission
- Ohio State Racing Commission
- Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services
Ohio for Responsible Gambling provides responsible gambling tips, information about problem gambling warning signs and resources for treatment to those negatively affected by gambling.
Ohio Casino Control Commission
The Ohio Casino Control Commission oversees gambling in the state, and therefore primarily works to ensure the integrity of games provided in Ohio casinos and racinos as it licenses and regulates gambling in the state.
However, the commission also collects and provides a number of resources on the Responsible Gambling page of its website. These resources include:
- Information about applying to the Ohio Voluntary Exclusion Program
- Mental health resources for problem gamblers
- A list of questions designed to help identify whether a person has a gambling problem
- Addresses and websites for a number of problem gambling treatment facilities in Ohio
- Phone numbers for several different state and national gambling helplines
Problem Gambling Network of Ohio
The Problem Gambling Network of Ohio is an organization that promotes responsible gambling principles and provides treatment services to those affected by problem gambling. It operates as an affiliate of the National Council on Problem Gambling.
The National Council on Problem Gambling has an Ohio state page that lists a number of other Ohio-specific resources.
National resources for responsible and problem gambling
Several national resources also exist, allowing Ohioans to find information about responsible gambling and help with problem gambling. Here are a few of the better-known organizations providing such assistance.
National Council on Problem Gambling
The National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG) is a national organization that supports programs and services for those affected by problem gambling.
Ohio residents can call the National Problem Gambling Helpline Network at 800-522-4700 to learn more about what the NCPG offers. They can also call that number or visit the NCPG website for information about problem gambling resources in Ohio.
In addition, the NCPG offers chat support 24/7.
International Center for Responsible Gambling
Part of the American Gaming Association (AGA), International Center for Responsible Gambling (ICRG) is a nonprofit organization that focuses on funding research into gambling addiction. The ICRG provides a number of responsible gambling programs to provide information about gambling disorders and the detrimental effects of gambling addiction.
The ICRG was previously known as the International Center for Responsible Gambling. Its connection with the AGA and the fact that its funding comes from the casino industry has led some to speculate how the ICRG’s programs and studies might more directly serve casinos’ interests than those who patronize them. That said, the ICRG nonetheless provides many resources to help both individuals and organizations understand problem gambling.
Gamblers Anonymous (GA) has been around since the 1950s. The organization has historical connections with Alcoholics Anonymous and similarly recommends a 12-step program to problem gamblers as a rehabilitation method.
The GA website also offers a much-cited list of 20 yes-or-no questions designed to help respondents discover if they or someone they know suffers from problem gambling.
For those in Ohio, GA has multiple hotlines where people can call for help:
- Toledo: 419-327-9514
- Youngstown: 330-505-5060
- Cincinnati, Dayton, and other cities: 855-222-5542.
Gam-Anon is a self-help organization focused on helping spouses, family members and friends of those affected by problem gambling. It also offers a 12-step program among its many resources and helps organize meetings where impacted individuals can provide assistance and support to each other.
GamTalk is another resource for those affected by the problem gambling of a family member or friend. GamTalk offers a number of self-help tools and programs, and its website hosts online chat rooms where members can meet and receive help.
What is responsible gambling?
The phrase “responsible gambling” has different meanings in different contexts. Most who hear or read the phrase might think it simply refers to adults exercising moderation when they gamble. That is to say, by gambling responsibly, people can avoid pitfalls that sometimes result from more extreme gambling-related behavior.
That is certainly one aspect of responsible gambling. Those who gamble should understand how to do so in a socially responsible way. Practicing responsible gambling means avoiding bringing harm to oneself or to others while gambling.
Within the gambling industry, responsible gambling also represents a concrete set of guidelines followed by those who provide gambling to the public. The idea informs policies and rules created by lawmakers and regulators as they try to guard against potentially negative and harmful consequences of gambling.
In most jurisdictions, whenever any type of gambling becomes legal, the laws include requirements that providers inform patrons about responsible gambling. That’s true in Ohio as well.
Tips for gamblers
Here are a few guidelines and tips gamblers should follow in order to practice responsible gambling:
- Only gamble with money you can afford to lose, and never gamble with money needed for other purposes (bills, food, essentials).
- Never gamble with borrowed money.
- Keep track of money spent while gambling, and set limits or create a budget if necessary to help you do so.
- Put a limit on the amount of time you spend gambling, including taking breaks if needed.
- Don’t let the emotional swings of gambling lead you to act irrationally (e.g., “chasing losses” after losing, or “riding the rush” after winning).
- Never gamble in order to “cope” (or avoid) other life stressors like anxiety or depression.
- Always know it is fine to ask for help if you think your gambling is becoming a problem.
Best practices for gambling providers
On the flip side, there are a number of best practices for gambling providers to help ensure they create conditions suitable for responsible gambling. These can include adopting the following policies:
- Educate patrons about responsible gambling and how to avoid problem gambling.
- Provide resources to help patrons learn about responsible gambling and where they can seek help for problem gambling.
- Educate staff about responsible gambling, and train them to spot signs of problem gambling in patrons and how to act to prevent it.
- Never allow patrons who are obviously drunk or impaired to gamble.
- Avoid marketing that appeals to “degenerate” gamblers or makes light of problem gambling.
- Establish policies to prevent underage gambling.
What is problem gambling?
As already noted, responsible gambling doesn’t just mean avoiding behaviors and situations that can potentially cause harm to gamblers and others. Responsible gambling also involves identifying signs of problem gambling.
Of course, sometimes identifying such signs either in oneself or in others is easier said than done.
Sometimes problem gambling is obvious, such as when it leads to conspicuously destructive behavior. In these cases, problem gambling can be likened to drug or alcohol addiction.
In fact “gambling addiction” can share many of the same characteristics as drug or alcohol addiction. It can cause the same harmful consequences to a person’s health or well-being. It can also negatively affect a person’s relationships with family and friends or endanger the person’s employment.
But problem gambling can also include less noticeable behaviors, which can make it more difficult to notice. These less-overt symptoms of problem gambling are important to detect since they sometimes provide warnings that more serious difficulties could develop. Truth be told, any negative consequence caused by gambling, however small, can potentially be a sign of problem gambling.
Here are a few common symptoms of problem gambling:
- Attempting to keep others from knowing about one’s gambling activity, including lying
- Getting defensive about gambling, including arguing about it
- Allowing gambling to become a distraction from other activities
- Showing irritability or other signs of instability when not gambling
- Requesting to borrow money from family members or friends
- Selling possessions to raise money unexpectedly
- Repeated absences from school or work
- Failure to pay essential bills
- Neglecting personal hygiene, diet, or health
- Experiencing extreme emotional swings caused by gambling (sadness, euphoria)
Importance of responsible gambling
With the addition of new forms of legal gambling in Ohio including sports betting, it has become more important than ever for Ohioans to educate themselves about responsible gambling.
Many adults in Ohio and elsewhere enjoy gambling as a favorite pastime without suffering any negative consequences. But as happens with other “adult” recreations, some have difficulty moderating their behavior when gambling. Some also fail to appreciate the potential risks involved and how gambling can cause serious harm both to themselves and to those who care about them.
Anyone involved in gambling should take advantage of the many resources available to help prevent gambling from becoming a harmful activity. Learning how to practice responsible gambling can help make it a fun and positive experience. Even if gambling is not necessarily problematic to you, it is good to know what constitutes responsible gambling and to follow best practices.
It is also worthwhile learning about the potential warning signs of problem gambling in yourself or in others. If ever you think you or someone close to you may be having a problem with gambling, don’t hesitate to ask for help and/or take advantage of the many resources available.
Gamblers are familiar with the concept of risking something in order to win a potential reward. When it comes to learning about responsible gambling, there is no cost at all other than the expense of a bit of time and attention. Furthermore, the reward that comes from gaining such knowledge can be considerable.