Hundreds of Chronic Gamblers Ask To Be Banned From Ohio Casinos

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By mid-2013 now, we're knee-deep in casino culture across the fair state of Ohio. That's all thanks to Dan Gilbert and the Pennsylvania-based Penn National Gaming (and, of course, the voters who green-lit this whole thing).

The state is about to churn out $6 million in gambling addiction treatment and prevention measures. And complementing the funding, about 450 people in Ohio have requested to be banned from the casinos. There are more than 600 Ohioans who have been asked to be banned from Indiana casinos, as well.

This Columbus Dispatch lede betrays a bizarre (and typically Ohio-ish) sense of "let's put off until any other time but now what we could do, um, now."

Before the first pair of dice tumbled down the green velvet, coins clattered into a slot machine or a silver ball spun madly around a roulette wheel, Ohio officials knew the time would come when they would have to deal with problem gamblers.

Pardon the blatant abortion of parallel structure in that sentence, and let that proactive sense of civic duty simmer for a minute.

Here's another strange set of realities that gambling operators are pushing in the state. Laura Clemens, responsible-gaming coordinator for the Ohio Casino Control Commission, told the Dispatch: “From the very beginning, we felt we needed to get ahead of the game on this and not wait until the problem came to us." But numbers paint a vivid picture of the "problem" coming right to Ohio's doorstep. A 2012 study has 250,000 Ohioans marked down as problems gamblers or at-risk gamblers.

As it stands, 2 percent of casino tax revenue goes toward mental-health and addiction boards across the state. That'll add up to nearly $4 million this year (although, overall, Horseshoe Cleveland revenue was down 17 percent in July 2013, compared to July 2012).

Tax-wise, a $27-million levy will appear on the Nov. 5 ballot. The replacement of 2.9 mills and the addition of 1 mill will benefit Cuyahoga County's health and human services budget vis-a-vis an expansion of mental health services. With the rising tide of problem gambling (a certainty according to anyone with eyes in Ohio) comes the inevitable demand for bulkier budgets.

Following Gambling Prevention Week, which wrapped up Aug. 5, it may be worth pointing out real quick that the Ohio Problem Gambling Helpline is 1-800-589-9966.

About The Author

Eric Sandy

Eric Sandy is an award-winning Cleveland-based journalist. For a while, he was the managing editor of Scene. He now contributes jam band features every now and then.
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