Problem Gambling Awareness Month

With March upon us, Ohioans look forward to warmer weather, St. Patrick’s Day and filling out our March Madness brackets. Few realize March is also known for another important reason; it’s Problem Gambling Awareness Month.

Gambling opportunities have grown in Ohio with four new casinos and new racinos (race tracks with video lottery terminals) opening across the state. March is dedicated by Gov. John Kasich as Ohio’s Problem Gambling Awareness Month.

The Mental Health and Recovery Services Board of Seneca, Sandusky and Wyandot Counties has joined the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services in sharing information so community residents, parents and young people understand what responsible gambling looks like and what to do when gambling stops being fun and starts to become a problem.

What are some signs of problem gambling?

Bragging about winning, exaggerating wins and/or minimizing losses.

Spending a lot of time gambling, thinking about or planning to gamble.

Borrowing for gambling.

Hiding time spent gambling or hiding bills and unpaid debts.

Lying about how much time or money is spent on gambling.

Although a small percentage of people will develop a gambling addiction, those few people will cause pain and damage to countless lives. We make sure that quality services are available for prevention of problem gambling and for treatment when it is needed. This awareness month helps us get the word out.

A number of resources are available for people faced with problem gambling behavior in themselves or a family member. The Ohio Problem Gambling Helpline at (800) 589-9966 offers referrals for gambling treatment, as well as helps with other concerns impacted by gambling, such as housing, food, employment, financial counseling, etc. When needed, state-funded treatment for problem gambling is available through community allocations that go to the local county Mental Health and Recovery Services Board.

If you believe someone you love has a gambling problem, these steps can get a conversation started:

Talk in a comfortable, private place where you won’t be disturbed or distracted.

Keep it simple and straightforward; focus on your concern for the person and behavior.

Be specific about how the behavior is affecting others.

Be clear about expectations.

Allow the person to respond, and listen without passing judgment.

The Mental Health and Recovery Services Board of Seneca, Sandusky and Wyandot Counties is committed to sharing information and resources for better mental health and the prevention of substance abuse. It has a website,, with a link to our Facebook page. If you would like more information, please call the Mental Health and Recovery Services Board at (419) 448-0640 between the hours of 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays. The board’s hotline is available 24/7 at (800) 826-1306.

Nancy Cochran,

executive director