As March approaches, Ohioans look forward to warm weather, St. Patrick’s Day, and filling out their March Madness brackets. Few realize that March is also known for another important reason: it’s Problem Gambling Awareness Month. Gambling opportunities have grown in Ohio with four new casinos and new racinos (race tracks with video lottery terminals) opening across the state. March is dedicated by Governor John R. Kasich as Ohio’s Problem Gambling Awareness Month.
In Darke, Miami and Shelby counties, theTri-County Board of Recovery and Mental Health Services and its partner agencies have joined the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (OhioMHAS) in sharing information so that community residents, parents and young people understand what responsible gambling looks like and what to do when gambling stops being fun and starts to become a problem.
What are some signs of problem gambling?
Bragging about winning, exaggerating wins and/or minimizing losses
Spending a lot of time gambling, thinking about or planning to gamble
Restless or irritable when not gambling
Borrowing for gambling
Hiding time spent gambling or hiding bills and unpaid debts
Lying about how much time or money is spent on gambling
Mark McDaniel, Executive Director of the Tri-County Board, said, “As more gambling opportunities become available in and around West Central Ohio, there is an increased chance that someone you know, work with - even in your own family – will develop a gambling problem. We are working with our agency partners and others to get screening tools in place, to identify potential problems and refer people to trained counselors before finances, reputations and lives are damaged.”
A number of resources are now available for people faced with problem gambling behavior in themselves or a family member. The Ohio Problem Gambling Helpline at 1 (800) 589-9966 offers referrals for gambling treatment in a specific part of the state, as well as helps with other concerns that can be impacted by gambling, such as housing, food, employment, financial counseling, etc. When needed, state-funded treatment for problem gambling is available through community allocations that go to local county Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health boards.
If you believe that someone you love has a gambling problem, some simple steps can get a conversation started:
Talk in a comfortable, private place where you won’t be disturbed or distracted
Keep it simple and straightforward; focus on your concern for the person and behavior
Be specific about how the behavior is affecting others
Be clear about expectations
Allow the person to respond, and listen without passing judgment
A partnership of state agencies called Ohio for Responsible Gambling (ORG) also has resources available at www.ilostabet.org. The ORG partners are OhioMHAS and the Commissions for Casino Control, Lottery and Racing. The 2014 ORG-sponsored Problem Gambling Conference, Ohio’s Response to a Changing Landscape, will be held March 4-5 at the Crowne Plaza Columbus North for professionals who work in the fields of prevention and treatment of gambling disorders. Registration is currently available at http://1.usa.gov/1aBXshZ .
For more information about problem gambling services in your area, contact the Tri-County Board of Recovery and Mental Health Services at 335-7727 or call 1 (800) 589-9966.
Brad Reed is the Director of Community Resource Development for the Tri-County Board of Recovery and Mental Health Services