DELAWARE COUNTY, Ohio (WCMH) — The state of Ohio says their taking steps to help those struggling with gambling addiction.
The 17th annual Problem Gambling Conference kicked off today. It’s a place where those struggling and recovering could come together to discuss solutions. Jess Stewart, a recovered gambling addict, hasn’t gambled in four years.
“I reached a point where I was contemplating suicide myself,” said Stewart.
Stewart also said gambling was his only concern.
“I would just fly off to Las Vegas for 7 to 10 days at a time. Not even taking just a total disregard for my family or my wife. You reached that level,” said Stewart.
He continued to say that he could easily gamble more than $35,000.
“I had a family member that told me to just stop. It’s not that easy. Addiction is a problem, gambling is no different than alcoholism or drug abuse.”
Stewart states he almost lost it all including his wife and home, but got help through a treatment facility. Now he shares his story at the conference.
“I hope to save a life and not put someone else in the same position that I once was,” said Stewart.
James Syphax is a member of the Prevention Action Alliance, an agency through the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services. Syphax warned parents at the conference about exposing kids to gambling.
“We just want parents to be aware of what’s going on. ‘Change The Game Ohio’, has a quiz parents can take that explains some of the language used in video games. Some of the different purchase options things that can be made,” said Syphax .
Prevention action alliance says kids are four times more likely to become addicted to gambling as adults if they’re exposed to it as kids.
Paul Pellizzari, Hardrock international Vice President and casino owner, is aware of this too. They sent representatives to today’s event to further the discussion about ways to keep gambling fun and safe.
“Healthy gambling is people setting a budget and sticking to it. Understanding their own behavior. Knowing how the game works so they don’t play more than they want to,” said Pellizzari.