How Ohio’s Responsible Gambling Spending Compares to Other States  

In 2021, the National Association of Administrators for Disordered Gambling Services (NAADGS) conducted a survey of states’ responsible gambling budgets.

Ohio’s responsible gambling spending ranked 12th in the United States at 53 cents per capita — in public funds — spent on problem gambling initiatives. This is 13 cents above the national average. 

The state offers several problem gambling services and programs. These include Ohio’s problem gambling helpline, research, and counselor cross-training programs. This is an expansive list of services that are complemented by non-profits. One notable program trains clergy, lay ministers, and faith leaders to counsel and respond to problem gambling issues. Ten faith leaders participated in the program in 2020.  

Ohio sports betting is set to launch on January 1 in one of the few states well-positioned to expand gambling.

Ohio Responsible Gambling Basics

One of the most fundamental problem gambling programs is the problem gambling helpline. Virtually every state offers one. Some are publicly funded while others are funded by non-profits like the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG). Most of Ohio’s helpline callers seek information about services rather than treatment. Many problem gambling helpline calls are from loved ones who are concerned about someone else. 

However, the problem gambling helpline can also include serious calls that demand immediate attention. Fourteen Ohio helpline callers required suicide hotline services. These are often problem gamblers in immediate crisis. This could occur because they’ve bankrupted themselves or their families. It could also be depression, which often co-occurs alongside gambling disorders. 

Helpline Callers Focused on Slots, Table Games

Slots and table games were the most common games that bettors called the helpline about. That’s unsurprising since they were among the easiest games to play repeatedly at the time of the report. Calls regarding online sports betting might not outnumber those about slots and table games, but online sports betting carries risks unique to both online gaming and the myths about sports betting. 

New Ohio Sports Betting Challenges    

Ohio will confront two new challenges with the rising popularity of online gambling and legal sports betting, in particular. 

First, Ohio problem gambling awareness campaigns will have to prepare bettors for online gambling. Ohio bettors are about to have a very popular form of gambling available in their pockets. The convenience and accessibility of Ohio sports betting apps will spur an increase in the number of helpline calls.

One of the issues that could decrease call volume is the myth that sports betting is like high-risk investing. Sports wagers behave like derivatives but with two important differences. Sports wager losses go to casinos while derivative losses go to other investors and the few hedgers the derivatives are for. Sportsbook odds are also openly stacked against bettors while certain investments have the chance of paying off in the long run.  

Between the availability of online sports betting and the myths about sports betting itself, Ohio’s responsible gambling programs will have to prepare for more higher helpline calls and new gambling myths. 

What to Expect From Ohio Sports Gambling

Ohio’s sports betting bill set the online sports betting launch date at Jan. 1, 2023. This has given Ohio time to prepare for the challenges of a modern online sports betting market. The way Ohio rises to these new challenges — or fails to — will offer a preview for a potential future launch of online casinos. 

Ohio doesn’t have online casinos on the horizon now. But introducing online gambling to Ohio bettors could encourage demand for online slots and table games later. If Ohio maintains its responsible gambling infrastructure with online sports betting, then online casino proponents will gain a powerful argument in favor of an online casino bill. (Higher tax revenue than sports betting is another.)

Ohio’s responsible gambling measures will come under scrutiny when online sportsbooks go live on January 1. That scrutiny will reveal how flexible Ohio is in accommodating new forms of accessible gambling.   

About the Author
Christopher Gerlacher

Christopher Gerlacher

Senior Writer
Christopher Gerlacher is a senior writer and contributor for Gaming Today. He is a versatile and experienced industry expert with an impressive portfolio who has range from political and legislative pieces to sports and sports betting. He's a devout Broncos fan, for better or for worse, living in the foothills of Arvada, Colorado.

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