In the state of Ohio, many people find themselves struggling with addiction. Whether it be drugs, alcohol or gambling, the addictive behaviors have been growing. Reports show that over the last seven years gambling in Ohio has doubled!
Bruce Jones works with the Maryhaven Gambling Intervention Program in Columbus and he says the numbers have risen due to more accessibility to casinos, gaming and online betting.
“There’s more gambling availability now in Ohio than there’s ever been before. It’s right there with alcohol, cocaine, cannabis, opioids, hypnotics,” Jones said. “A behavioral addiction of gambling disorder.”
Back in 2012, about 450,000 people in the state were dealing with or showing signs of gambling addiction. Last year, that number jumped to 900,000. Which is more than the entire population of the city of Columbus, two times the city of Cleveland’s population and three times the population of Cincinnati.
Derek Longmeier works for the Problem Gambling Network of Ohio and says he gets non stop calls from Ohioans asking for help with gambling addiction.
“There’s a lot of people that need help. We receive 400-500 calls a month,” Longmeier said.
Sports create a high volume of gambling and the highest amount of calls. With basketball and football being two of the nations most beloved sports, the Super Bowl and March madness receive bets from all over the world.
According to Forbes, 2019’s Super Bowl brought in an estimated $6 billion in worldwide betting. March Madness, according to the American Gaming Association, brought in $8.5 billion.
The state of Ohio has been debating over two bills that can potentially make sports betting legal.
“The more opportunities there are to gamble, the more people will do it,” Longmeier said. “And, while most people don’t have a problem, we know some people will and the more ability you have to play, the more problems that will come.”
Governor Mike DeWine’s office chimed in on the matter releasing a statement recently regarding sports betting that says:
“The Governor believes sports gaming is coming to Ohio. His preference is that the general assembly establish regulations as opposed to a special interest ballot initiative. Our office remains engaged with the general assembly as they continue deliberations.”
If you or someone you know is having trouble with gambling, contact the Gambling Awareness and Prevention help line at 1-800-589-9966.