OHIO VALLEY — March is that time of year when many fill out a bracket for the March Madness Basketball Tournaments. Over 10 billion dollars will be spent this year in bets related to March Madness, though the odds of getting a perfect bracket are an astronomical 1 in 9.2 quintillion. While most gamblers only wager within their means, some struggle with it as an addiction as real as any substance use addiction.
The Gallia, Jackson, and Meigs Counties Board of Alcohol, Drug Addiction & Mental Health Services (ADAMHS) just released an analysis of the Ohio Gambling Survey, Round Two data specifically relating to residents in this three-county area. The Round Two survey is a follow-up to the baseline survey done in 2012, before any of the state’s casinos and racetrack-based racinos had opened.
Robin Harris, Executive Director of the Gallia, Jackson, and Meigs counties Board of ADAMHS, commented, “This analysis helps us to tailor our local prevention and awareness-building efforts to youth and adults at risk for problem gambling. We know that many people gamble a little, but we want to make sure their gambling doesn’t reach the point where it negatively affects themselves or their families.”
The 2016-17 data collection gathered 800 surveys in this area and more than 24,000 completed responses across the state. The survey included the same prevalence measurement used in 2012, the Canadian Problem Gambling Index (CPGI), which allows for a summary of current gambling activity among Ohio adults, and highlights statewide changes in gambling behavior over a four year period.
A few of the most notable statistics for Gallia, Jackson, and Meigs counties are listed below, with comparisons to the state in some cases.
Gambling Survey 2016-17 Highlights:
· Gallia, Jackson, and Meigs counties’ adult prevalence rate of at-risk/problem gamblers is 9.4 percent or 6,261 people, close to the 10.3 percent for the state.
· Across all races, adults had nearly the same rates of at-risk/problem gambling.
· Among age and gender groups in Gallia, Jackson, and Meigs counties, men 18-24 had the highest rate of at-risk/problem gambling, followed by women 25-44.
· Young adults 18-24 had the highest rate of at-risk/problem gambling at 19.4 percent, followed by all adults 25-44 at 13 percent.
· 28 percent of at-risk/problem gamblers reported gambling while intoxicated, and 1 of 4 were under a doctor’s care due to stress in Gallia, Jackson, and Meigs counties.
Ohio adults gamble in many different ways: 50-50 drawings, bingo, casinos, keno, horse racing, scratch-off tickets, lottery tickets, and sports betting to name just a few. Proceeds from the taxes on casino profits and the Lottery sales help to support schools, local governments, and prevention and responsible gambling campaigns and programs. Funds from Ohio’s taxes related to gambling revenues ensure that any Ohioan who needs treatment for gambling disorder can obtain care at no cost.
“Under the leadership of Governor John R. Kasich and the Ohio for Responsible Gambling partners, Ohio has committed to ensuring that prevention of problem gambling and education on responsible gambling practices reaches all citizens. For the small number who may need help due to gambling challenges, we have a quality system of care in place,” explained Director Tracy Plouck of Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (OhioMHAS), upon release of the statewide data.
The Ohio Gambling Survey – Round Two was sponsored by Ohio for Responsible Gambling (ORG), a partnership of state agencies: Ohio Commissions of Casino Control, Lottery and Racing, and OhioMHAS. The ORG group joins efforts to fund a statewide campaign designed to prevent problem gambling and educate on responsible gambling.
The ORG-sponsored, “Get Set Before You Bet,” campaign emphasizes the importance of knowing the odds, paying bills, not playing alone, and knowing how to get help for one’s self or a loved one in trouble due to gambling. The campaign website www.beforeyoubet.org offers extensive tools and resources, including a, “Take the Quiz,” feature that lets visitors rate their gambling activity on an at-risk scale. Nearly 30,000 Ohioans have taken the quiz to date.
March was national Problem Gambling Awareness Month, and local coalitions in Gallia County (Gallia Citizens for Prevention and Recovery- www.galliacpr.org), Jackson County (Substance Abuse Prevention and Addiction Resource Council- www.facebook.com/JacksonCoSPARC/) and Meigs County (Meigs County Community Prevention Coalition- www.facebook.com/meigsccpc/) all join the above-mentioned statewide organizations in encouraging people to know the warning signs of a gambling problem:
•Do you or a loved one ever gamble longer than originally planned?
•Have you ever had self-destructive thoughts because of problems resulting from gambling?
•Have you or a loved one lost time from work or school due to gambling?
•Do you hide the rent/mortgage or food money because your spouse, partner or other family member gambles it away?
•Do you or a loved one borrow money to finance gambling or to pay back gambling debts?
•Does your spouse, partner or other loved one promise faithfully that she or he will stop gambling, yet continues to gamble?
•Have you noticed a personality change in a loved one as his or her gambling has progressed?
•Is your spouse, partner or other loved one away from home or unavailable to the family of long periods of time due to gambling?
For those who need to talk to someone, the Ohio Problem Gambling Helpline is staffed 24/7 by trained referral specialists who can provide help in all areas of social service needs including counseling, financial assistance, and health services. The helpline is run through the United Way of Greater Cleveland, which maintains an up-to-date referral database of health and human services to assist callers anywhere in Ohio. If one has a gambling problem, one can call the Ohio Problem Gambling Helpline at 1-800-589-9966 or visit www.beforeyoubet.org.
Health Recovery Services offers free counseling services to those with gambling problems. Their toll-free number is 866-614-9588, and their website is located at www.hrs.org.
Submitted by Reggie Robinson.