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Ohio Gambling Helpline Expects March Madness Spike

A bill recently introduced in the Ohio House of Representatives includes a provision that would allow sports betting operators to take bets via mobile devices. [Adrian Ma / ideastream]
A white iPhone lays on a table. The screen shows several rows of sports betting apps.

The state agency that oversees gambling addiction services in Ohio is expecting a spike in calls to the state's problem gambling helpline this month. 

“We have more gambling at certain times of the year,” head of the Bureau of Problem Gambling Services, Stacey Frohnapfel-Hasson. “March is one of them.” 

Each year around this time, the NCAA tournament becomes a focal point for fans of the sport, as well as those who like to wager on the outcome of the games. On top that, other spring sports — such as soccer, baseball, and golf — are also highly gambled, said Frohnapfel-Hasson.

In March 2018, the Ohio Problem Gambling Helpline received 746 calls, according to data prepared by the United Way 2-1-1’s community resource department, which currently administers the helpline. As a result, Frohnapfel-Hasson, whose department oversees the helpline, said she is expecting a similar spike in calls to the state's problem gambling helpline this month.

Source: Ohio Problem Gambling Helpline Report, United Way 2-1-1 [Adrian Ma / ideastream]

This year, as in previous years, the Bureau is using this time to make a marketing push, declaring March Problem Gambling Awareness Month, and even buying targeted internet ads to try and reach people who might be at risk of problem gambling.

“If we think someone is interested in gambling, then we want to make sure they know how to get help if they might need it,” she said. 

The number for the Ohio Problem Gambling Helpline is 1-800-589-9966. For more info on problem gambling services, you can visit beforeyoubet.org or gamblinghelpohio.org.

Sports betting is not yet legal in Ohio. But last week, state senators John Eklund and Sean O'Brien introduced a bill aimed at lifting that prohibition by allowing casinos and video lottery terminal operators to take bets on any professional or collegiate “sporting event” approved by the Ohio Casino Control Commission.