More Ohioans seek help for problem gambling

More Ohioans seek help for problem gambling

Associated Press


Ohioans with gambling problems are reaching out for help in greater numbers in the state where three casinos and one racino opened this year.

Phone calls to the state’s gambling help line are increasing, and more people are signing up for a voluntary program that bars them from entering a casino, the Akron Beacon Journal reported Sunday.

The Ohio Problem Gambling Helpline received 2,576 calls in the last fiscal year that ended in June, and more than 1,389 calls were received in the first four months of the current fiscal year, according to the newspaper.

The responsible-gambling program coordinator for the Ohio Casino Control Commission attributed that rise to a couple of factors.

More gambling options are now available in Ohio, and the help line number has been publicized more, according to commission coordinator Laura Clemens. She says the reasons people are seeking help also are changing.

The 31.4 percent of callers who had cited lottery games when they mentioned their gambling problem has fallen to 9.4 percent so far this fiscal year, and 20.5 percent now are reporting problems with slot machines and casino table games. That’s up from 17.1 percent.

The commission also says that 163 people are participating in the “Voluntary Exclusion” program that began this year.

“We’re doing really well,” Clemens said about the number. “We’re averaging about 25 a month.”

People who know they have a problem apply through the commission to be banned from the casinos for one year, five years or life. So far, 72 have applied for the lifetime ban and 37 sought the five-year ban. A total of 54 asked for the one-year ban.

Of those in the program, 118 are men and 45 are women.

The first participant in Ohio was Justin Gale, of Mayfield Heights. The 52-year-old compulsive gambler has started a personal effort to promote the voluntary program.

On Wednesday, he stood for hours on Cleveland’s Public Square across the street from Horseshoe Casino Cleveland. Gale wore a T-shirt that read “I quit betting. Ask me how.”

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