Ohioans Call Addiction Helpline for Gambling Tips

By McCarton Ackerman 07/22/13

Half of all calls to a problem-gambling help line are inquiries about local casinos and winning lottery numbers.

That's not what "gambling helpline" means.
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Many callers into Ohio's problem-gambling helpline are interpreting "helpline" to mean help with gambling more successfully. The hotline was opened when the state started opening casinos last year and has received 5,645 calls at the end of the state's fiscal year on June 30. However, 54% of the calls were labeled as "not applicable" because they were inquiries about winning lottery numbers or information on local casinos and horse tracks. The state has now taken action by leaving a recorded message on the hotline that lets callers know they are calling a number for people seeking help with problem gambling. "We want it to be the best value, obviously, for the taxpayer," says Stacey Frohnapfel-Hasson, chief of problem-gambling services for the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services. "That's not, 'What's on the buffet?'" The hotline number is also posted on lottery tickets, slot machines and advertisements. Statistics from October 2012 show less than 3% of adults in Ohio are problem gamblers or at risk of problem gamblers, but that number is expected to rise now that casinos are in the state. However, only 6% of Ohioans reported that their preferred gambling method was in a casino; 72% preferred lottery and scratch-off games.

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.