In the first month of legalized sports betting, calls to Ohio’s Problem Gambling Helpline increased 227% from January 2022 to January 2023, according to an Ohio for Responsible Gambling report released in tandem with Problem Gambling Awareness Month in March.
In 2022, the number of calls to Ohio’s Problem Gambling Helpline increased for the sixth consecutive year. The report also has initial data from the first month of legalized sports betting in January 2023. Key findings include:
- A 135% increase in helpline calls from December of 2022 (the last month prior to legalization) vs. January 2023, the first month of legalized sports betting.
- Warm transfer line calls connecting gamblers in need of additional support increased 66% from December 2022 to January 2023.
- Total chats increased 45% from December 2022 to January 2023.
“We knew the numbers were going to increase. While Ohio’s increase in calls for help matches other states that recently legalized sports betting, it’s still a wake-up call for people to take notice,” said Derek Longmeier, Executive Director, Problem Gambling Network of Ohio.
Longmeier said Ohio’s Problem Gambling Helpline received an average of about 48 calls per day in January 2023 compared to 20 calls per day the month before. Many who are seeking help have started gambling in the last year. He added that the age of callers is getting younger, with 18-34 being the fastest-growing age range of callers.
“Technology lets anyone bet anywhere with cell phone reception. The ability to place multiple bets in real-time with no safeguards can quickly lead to catastrophic losses,” said Amanda Blackford, Director of Operations and Problem Gambling Services, Ohio Casino Control Commission.
March is Problem Gambling Awareness Month and Blackford said that while most Ohioans gamble responsibly, she said a 2017 study found individuals wagering on sports had the highest rates of being at risk for developing a problem with gambling.
To educate Ohioans on safe sports betting, Ohio for Responsible Gambling launched Pause Before You Play in late 2022. A sub-set of Get Set Before You Bet, an award-winning problem gambling education effort from Ohio for Responsible Gambling, the Pause Before You Play campaign focuses on responsible play and the nuances of sports betting that can pose problems.