Report: Major Increase in Calls to Ohio Gambling Helpline

Report: Major Increase in Calls to Ohio Gambling Helpline
Fact Checked by Pat McLoone

Ohio sports betting brought in record numbers in the first month since it was legalized statewide on New Year’s Day.

As reported, the Buckeye State turned in the second-highest first-month handle in the nation’s history with more than $1.1 billion being bet either online, in-person or at the state’s sports betting kiosks. 

The first month of Ohio betting apps and other legal sports gambling outlets also brought in a significant increase in phone calls made for problem gambling. 

Based on a press release from Ohio For Responsible Gambling in tandem with Problem Gambling Awareness, calls to Ohio’s Problem Gambling Helpline increased by 227% from Jan. 2022 to Jan. 2023. 

“We knew the numbers were going to increase,” Problem Gambling Network of Ohio Executive Director Derek Longmeier said in the press release. “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.”

Details of the Report

The Ohio For Responsible Gambling’s 2023 Problem Gaming Awareness Month Annual Report stated that there was a 135% increase in helpline calls from Dec. 2022 to Jan. 2023, after the statewide rollout of sports betting. In that same one-month period, transfer line calls connecting gamblers in need of support increased by 66% and total chats increased by 45%, according to the report. 

In the press release, Longmeier said the helpline averaged 48 calls per day in January, compared to 20 calls per day throughout December. The report notes the age of callers has decreased, with gamblers aged 18-34 becoming more frequent callers in need of additional support. 

“Most Ohioans aren’t aware of how many people are at risk in their communities,” said Amanda Blackford, director of operations for problem gambling services at the Ohio Casino Control Commission. “Technology lets anyone bet anywhere with cell phone receptions. The ability to place multiple bets in real-time with no safeguards can quickly lead to catastrophic losses.” 

In the report, Blackford said it’s important for everyone to understand the potential dangers with sports betting, though the majority of Ohioans do gamble responsibly.

Referencing a 2017 study, Blackford said sports gamblers have the highest risk of developing a problem with gambling, according to the release. The 2017 survey “also indicated that individuals with problem gambling may have a higher risk of drug dependency, alcoholism, mental health issues and suicide rates,” the release said. 

March is Problem Gambling Awareness Month. The Problem Gambling Helpline, which is available 24/7, is 800-589-9966. It’s also available by texting 4HOPE to 741741.



Shelby Dermer is a reporter for Shelby has been a sports reporter for the Cincinnati Enquirer for the last five years and now lends his expertise to the Ohio sports betting market. He grew up in Waynesville, Ohio, and graduated from Ohio University.

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