HomeOhio Sports Betting NewsOhio Researchers Explore the Level of Gambling Addiction Among Residents

Ohio Researchers Explore the Level of Gambling Addiction Among Residents

The survey results on compulsive gambling shared recently by the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services are alarming enough. But more alarming still is that the survey was concluded at the end of 2022 – or one day before legal, regulated sports betting launched in Ohio.

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The findings, presented at the last Ohio Casino Control Commission meeting, were that roughly 2.8% of the state’s 9.1 million adults can be characterized as “problem gamblers.”

That figure is more than triple the amount from the same survey conducted in 2017, which was the second such survey conducted in the state. The first survey came in 2012, just before the first Ohio casinos opened their doors.

Respondents to the survey were asked questions designed by the Canadian Problem Gambling Index, including “When you gambled, did you go back another day to try to win back the money you lost?”

Other questions were about whether respondents had ever risked more money than they could afford to lose; had they needed to increase their wagers to maintain a familiar level of excitement; has the gambling caused any personal financial problems; and if there is a level of guilt felt by the respondents over their gambling.

Interest in “day trading” on the stock markets and cryptocurrency speculation also were part of the list of queries.

Nearly 20% of Ohio’s adult population was found to be considered “low-risk, moderate-risk, or problem gamblers.”

The latter group comprised almost 255,000 residents.

Ohio Gambling Rates – 2012, 2017, and 2022

The results of surveys from 2012 and 2017 compared to 2022 provided some eye-opening conclusions.

For instance, in 2012, 41.4% of those surveyed said they simply do not gamble. Five years later – after the arrival of casinos – that number dropped to 25.1%. And in 2022, only 17.2% of respondents reported no gambling activity.

Casual or “non-problem” gambling rates haven’t changed as much – 53% in 2012, 64.4% in 2017, and 63% in 2022.

But the number of so-called “low-risk” gamblers has risen – from 4.2% to 6.4% to 10.9%, in 2022. The same is true for those at “moderate risk” regarding gambling – 1.1% to 3% to 6.1%.

Advocates for problem gambling treatment programs can benefit from the demographic breakdowns provided by the survey, learning where scarce resources can best be allocated.

While there was little difference in rates of problem and at-risk gambling found in men vs. women and in military veterans compared to civilians, African-American rates in those two categories nearly doubled that of White residents – 32.1% vs 18.4%. That is even though the number of non-gamblers in those groups was nearly identical (16.3% vs. 16.9%).

The increased cultural acceptance of gambling over time is evident in the age-related demographic breakdown. While 11.6% of those age 65 and over fall into the highest-level gambling groups, that number jumps to 19.7% of those age 45-64; to 22.2% for those age 25-44; and to 24.1% for those age 18-24 – even though most legal gambling in Ohio has a minimum age of 21.

Which Gambling is Riskiest?

The 2022 survey found that online gambling in Ohio – defined by the survey as “using gambling websites or apps and playing games in an app” – includes 10.4% of participants as “problem gamblers,” with 40.6% considered “at risk” and 49% as “non-problem gamblers.”

The second-most concerning form of gambling was “gaming” – defined as “betting on eSports, arcade or video games,” with 7.6% of respondents found to be problem gamblers. That number dwindled slightly among those who dabble in casinos, financial speculation, Ohio sports betting, and lottery players – the latter still including 4.6% who are seen as problem gamblers.

According to the department, “This data informs the Ohio behavioral health system of care on strategies for awareness, prevention, clinical care and recovery support related to problem gambling and the Gambling Disorder diagnosis for those experiencing serious consequences from their gambling.“

The statewide data summary helps to distinguish appropriate messages for different age groups, race or ethnic groups, gender, and status as a parent/caregiver, employer, spouse, etc.

“Along with the statewide highlights, each of the 50 County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Boards receives its own summary of data and a slide deck for community education.”

The survey also noted that “Problem gambling is often related to a higher co-occurrence of risk factors, including a family history of gambling problems, using alcohol or drugs, gambling while intoxicated, experiencing serious depression, and experiencing serious stress.”

Ohio Considered a National Leader in Responsible Gambling Efforts

The announcement of the survey results also hailed Ohio’s success in 2023 in awards received from the National Council on Problem Gambling.

The council chose the Ohio for Responsible Gambling group’s “Make The Call” in the Corporate Public Awareness category as the outstanding campaign that has increased awareness of problem gambling.

The Ohio Casino Control and Ohio Lottery Commission, meanwhile, won 2023 Corporate Website Award for their website that has increased awareness of problem gambling with their collaboration on TimeOutOhio.com. The new website educates, provides resources and allows Ohioans to ban themselves from Ohio casinos, racinos, and sports wagering.

The Corporate People’s Choice Award went to Ohio for Responsible Gambling’s “Pause Before You Play” (a sports betting-focused print advertisement), while Sutton Dunnavant of WNWO Toledo won the Corporate Media Award for outstanding reporting by a news organization in any communications channel that has best covered the issue of problem gambling.

Finally, the Jim Wuelfing Annual Award for Prevention – was awarded posthumously to Townhall II’s Dr. Amanda Jo Burke for outstanding achievement in advocacy, development, integration, outreach, research, or training around the support of responsible gambling in Ohio.

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