This Ohio gambling hotline received 3 times more calls since January 2023

Sports betting linked to surge
Published: May. 5, 2023 at 2:01 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Calls logged by the Problem Gambling Network of Ohio and their 1-800-GAMBLER hotline have exploded.

“As we can imagine, numbers to that Ohio Problem Gambling Helpline have dramatically increased since the rollout of sports betting on January first,” said Michael Buzzelli, Associate Director of Problem Gambling Network of Ohio. “We went from about a little more than five hundred to fifteen hundred so we tripled.”

There was an uptick in calls in 2012 when casino gambling became legal.

Now, technology and sports betting itself changed everything with 90% of sports bets placed on cell phone apps.

“With micro-betting, because there’s no stopping, you can just continue to bet, continue to play,” said Buzzelli, “You can bet on balls and strikes which means you can place a bet every fifteen seconds. That’s vastly different that what sports betting looked like five, ten, fifteen years ago.”

Buzzelli says ”Pause Before You Play” to avoid financial issues and family consequences. And always look for signs.

“Experiencing more irritability, restlessness, borrowing money, hiding the amount you’re gambling, not wanting friends and family to know how involved you are in it, these are all warning signs,”said Buzzelli, who stressed many times it’s family members or friends who call for help for a loved one or friend.

But in the end, gamblers should always remember why they follow sports.

“If betting on sports becomes more stressful, more anxious, and if watching sports becomes less fun, it might be maybe it’s time to slow the betting down to remind ourselves why we fell in love in the first place,” said Buzzelli.

There are eleven casinos in Ohio with sports betting, including Jack Casino, MGM Northfield Park, and Jack Thistledown Racino in Northeast Ohio, plus forty brick-and-mortar sports gambling sites, including Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse and Progressive Field, as well as Ohio Lottery kiosks.