Casino Week: Problem gambling

11:42 AM, May 13, 2012   |    comments
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CLEVELAND -- There is a lot of excitement surrounding the opening of the Horseshoe Casino.

But as the excitement grows so does the need to talk about problem gambling. Psychiatrist Ray Isackila and Ohio Lottery Community Outreach Coordinator Karen Russo both say that the population of people who actually have a problem with gambling is small.

Photos: Inside the Cleveland Horseshoe Casino

Dr. Isackila says it's only about 1 to 2 percent.

Cleveland Horseshoe Casino Expanded Coverage 

Most people are able to set a limit and keep their expectations about gambling in perspective.

"They go home, it's no big thing. They go to work tomorrow. Somebody with a disorder is going to chase their losses, perhaps and think about the money they lost," said Dr. Isackila.

Someone with a gambling disorder finds a tolerance grows, just like someone with a drug or alcohol addiction.

"Where gambling $30 was fun for a while. Then as people grow more accustomed to that fun, if they cross a line, well now, it takes $100 to have that fun, and then eventually $200."

The Ohio Lottery has been providing help to problem gamblers since before it was mandated by the Ohio Revised Code. This fiscal year the call line has seen a major jump in calls.

One reason why could be because of a marketing campaign throughout the month of March. In July 2011, there were 118 calls for help, in March 2012, that number was up to 409 calls.

"These people are calling with financial strains, they don't have food on the table, they've lost their houses they may be in foreclosure," Russo explained, "so there is a multitiude of issues going on with the individuals who finally do call the Helpline."

It is clear the number of people with a problem is small but there are no specific numbers in the state as to the kind of gambling problem across the state, or where the pockets of serious problems persist.

Now, the Lottery, the casinos and the State Racing Commission, the Ohio Department of Drug and Alcohol Services and Kent State University are doing a study to see where more resources need to go.

If you are borrowing money to gamble, if gambling consumes your thoughts, or if you are gambling to escape an emotional problem you should look into getting help.

You can call the Problem Gambler's Helpline at 1-866-589-9966 or click on this link to take you to the Ohio Lottery's website.


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