COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — This is the first time Ohioans will be able to bet on football for the entirety of the NFL and college seasons, and some worry that will lead to more developing gambling problems.
By the time sports betting went live this year, Ohioans were able to bet on part of the NFL season. The sports popularity at the professional and collegiate levels combined with the availability of betting all season long contribute to a local counselor’s concerns.
“Because people finally being able to bet on their home team sport, home team legally and all these folks that never would have used a bookie or anything like that are going to try the new legalized system and my fear is that they can get addicted very quickly,” said Bruce Jones, the Administrative Coordinator of Maryhaven’s Gambling Intervention Program.
Teia Armstrong, a central Ohioan dealing with a sports betting addiction, shared a similar concern.
“You can bet on that one. Heck yes it’s going to be a lot. It’s legalized now, if you do it, bet safely,” Armstrong said.
Gambling is one of the addictions she’s getting help from Maryhaven for. Jones said those dealing with other addictions are higher risk for getting involved with problem gambling.
Regardless of the circumstances, he urged everyone to follow one of the state’s mottos, “Pause before you play.”
“Take a step back, take a couple breaths before you place the next bet, make sure you’re not spending money you can’t afford to lose,” Jones said. “I would say think before you bet, slow down, just have a budget, have a plan, and stick to it, take emotions out of it. If you’re going to approach it, do it like a business.”
Since January when sports betting became legal, Jones said some of the people he’s helped deal with sports related problem gambling are college students. Ohio State now offers a gambling educational session as part of its First Year Success Series. It also has a webpage with various resources for students.
The state’s problem gambling hotline is 1-800-589-9966.