COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Advocates are raising awareness about the risks of gambling and the resources available to Ohioans struggling with it.
“Help is available, hope is available, resources are here. The biggest challenge that we see is folks that are struggling just don’t understand how to access those resources,” said Derek Longmeier, the executive director of the Problem Gambling Network of Ohio.
September 13-19 marks Responsible Gaming Education Week, which is meant to showcase responsible gambling programs. 1 in 10 Ohioans who gamble experience problems with it and another 10 percent of those individuals may develop a compulsive gambling disorder.
“When we’re looking at gambling, it’s often referred to as the hidden addiction because often the gambling problems can go under the radar for so long,” explained Longmeier.
He said many of the warning signs loved ones might spot are financially related, such as sudden, unexplained losses or gains and the individual might be more secretive about his or her money.
The effects of problem gambling, much like other addictions, can be ruinous. Problem gamblers may lose tens of thousands of dollars, jeopardize reputations, strain relationships and in some cases commit crimes to fuel their habit.
“It can be really, really challenging for not only the individual, but for their families and even the larger community,” Longmeier said.
Responsible Gaming Education Week serves as a reminder of the available services in Ohio for gambling problems. One of the first lines of service comes from places where problem gamblers frequent. Casino and racino workers are trained to spot and extend help to struggling individuals.
Longmeier explained, “So often the casino and racino workers are really on the frontlines day in and day out and can really be those first responders to get people the help that they need.”
Additionally, 2 percent of casino tax revenue and .5 percent of video lottery tax revenue goes to the Problem Casino Gambling and Addictions Fund. Pending legislation for legalizing sports betting in Ohio also includes a provision which would contribute 2 percent tax revenue to the fund, as well as include warnings and resources in any advertisements.
Click here to take a short online quiz to see if you may have a gambling problem.
You can also find support from the following resource links for yourself or others:
Or call the Ohio Problem Gambling Helpline 24/7 at 1-800-589-9966.