For the fifth consecutive year, the number of calls to Ohio’s Problem Gambling Helpline has gone up.

This is one of many new findings on gambling’s growing impact with Ohio families and businesses highlighted in a new summary report from Ohio for Responsible Gambling.

“There’s a difference between responsible entertainment and potentially destructive behavior. Most Ohioans aren’t aware of how many people are at risk in their communities,” said Stacey Frohnapfel-Hasson, Bureau Chief, Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services.

March is Problem Gambling Awareness Month. Frohnapfel-Hasson said that while the majority of gamblers make responsible choices, technology is making it easier for people to bet and that can pose problems people may not be able to see.

“When sports betting becomes legal in Ohio, people can gamble any time of the day or night on anything in the world. Casinos train staff to check on individuals who may be in crisis; that’s impossible with mobile sports wagering where customers play in isolation,” said Derek Longmeier, Executive Director, Problem Gambling Network of Ohio.

A 2017 study found casino gamblers and sports gamblers had the highest rates of at-risk/problem gambling: 24.0% and 24.3% respectively. Frohnapfel-Hasson said people with gambling problems may also have higher risks of drug or alcohol use and mental health conditions, including thoughts of suicide.

Longmeier said the last year has also been historic for responsible gambling education and awareness, with several evidence-based programs being introduced and expanded throughout the state, all of which are showing effective outcomes.

“Betting will grow exponentially in Ohio over the next few years. Preparing now will help families, friends, and communities ensure this growth is safe and responsible,” Longmeier said.