COLUMBUS, Ohio -- As newly legal casinos continue to open their doors in Ohio, a new field specialist with Ohio State University Extension wants to be sure families understand the risks involved with gambling and where to turn for help if needed.
"For some people, gambling is recreational, but for others it becomes addictive and pathological," said Jim Bates, a field specialist in family wellness for OSU Extension.
Bates joined OSU Extension in September, just as the Hollywood Casino Columbus was making preparations to open in early October. Casinos in Toledo and Cleveland opened earlier this year. A fourth and final Ohio casino is scheduled to open in Cincinnati in spring 2013.
All are the result of the passing of a statewide ballot issue in November 2009 that approved the casinos. The Columbus casino alone is anticipated to draw 3 million visitors in its first year.
Gambling can become an addiction for some people, Bates said. As such, it can cause strain in relationships beyond any financial stress caused by gambling losses.
"Family members can be good at hiding addictions from others," he said. "When they're found out, that can have a stressful impact on the relationship. It has to do with trust."
Ohio's Casino Control Commission offers a list of warning signs for addictive and pathological gambling on its website, http://casinocontrol.ohio.gov/ResponsibleGambling.aspx. They include:
- Finding yourself reliving past gambling experiences, planning the next venture, or thinking of ways to get money to gamble.
- Needing to gamble with increasing amounts of money in order to feel excitement.
- Becoming restless or irritable when attempting to cut down or stop gambling.
- Using gambling as a way to escape problems or relieve guilt, anxiety or depression.
- Often returning another day in order to get even or to chase your losses after gambling.
- Lying to family members, friends, a therapist or others to conceal the extent of involvement with gambling.
The website also offers links to gambling addiction treatment centers in Ohio, as well as other resources.
In addition, Bates recommends that parents address the potential problems of gambling straightforwardly with their children.
"Research shows that 3 to 8 percent of adolescents who engage in gambling exhibit serious gambling pathology," Bates said. "That's much higher than the rate of gambling pathology in adults, which is 2 percent."
Rather than avoiding the topic, parents should set up ground rules regarding any type of gambling their children might engage in, and openly discuss with them the potential problems associated with gambling.
Also, families should be aware that seniors, especially those who are retired, could face gambling problems as well.
"This type of addiction can occur anywhere on life's course," Bates said, adding that it's important to be aware of warning signs and offer support if any family member's behavior raises a red flag.
In addition to the warning signs and resources available from the state's Casino Control Commission, Bates said other online self-screening tools are also available, including one from the South Oaks Gambling Screen from the Illinois Institute for Addiction Recovery, available at http://www.addictionrecov.org/southoak.aspx. Another is from Gamblers Anonymous, available at http://www.gamblersanonymous.org/ga/content/20-questions.