Ohio for Responsible Gambling released results Monday of a major survey that will help state leaders decide how to target money for the prevention and treatment of problem gambling.
Among the key findings:
• 0.3 percent of Ohioans had a gambling problem before two casinos and a racino opened this year in the state, with another 2.5 percent at risk of becoming a problem gambler. Those figures are comparable to other studies, researchers said.
• At-risk and problem gamblers spent an average of $166 a month at casinos. Meanwhile, those identified without a problem spent $135.
• Men, young adults age 18 to 24 and African-Americans are more likely to be at risk or have a problem.
• 15.6 percent of respondents reported having a family member with a gambling problem.
• Nearly 57 percent of respondents gambled within the previous year.
Ohio for Responsible Gambling — a joint effort of the Ohio Department of Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services, Ohio Casino Control Commission, Ohio Lottery Commission and Ohio Racing Commission — and partner Kent State University conducted the telephone survey earlier this year to gauge habits and attitudes about gambling before four casinos and seven racinos open in the state.
“We want to be absolutely prepared to deal with the problems that are probably coming down the road at us,” said Jo Ann Davidson, chair of the Ohio Casino Control Commission. “It’s a natural phenomena: When you’re going to have increased opportunities for gambling, you’re going to have increased problems.”
The Horseshoe Casino in Cleveland, Hollywood Casino in Toledo and Scioto Downs Racino in Columbus have opened. Casinos are set to open in Columbus and Cincinnati, and racinos are planned for other areas of the state.
The telephone survey quizzed 3,600 Ohioans — including an extra 600 each in the Cleveland-Akron, Columbus, Cincinnati and Toledo areas — from February through July. Cleveland-Akron and Toledo-area residents were asked questions before the casinos opened.
The data was weighted on age, race and gender.
The survey showed higher risks for problem gambling in the four communities slated for Las Vegas-style casinos. The results also indicate a relationship between problem gambling and alcohol/drug use, depression and being under a doctor’s care.
As far as attitudes, 65.6 percent of respondents believe it’s possible to reduce gambling problems through prevention. But only half believe the community has a responsibility to develop prevention programs.
Meanwhile, 51 percent believe casino gambling is more risky than buying lottery tickets or pull-tabs.
The results will serve as a baseline for future surveys to see if habits and attitudes change, researchers said.
“We have a really good opportunity here to do a lot of targeting with prevention messages and prevention efforts in Ohio now,” said Sanford Starr, chief of the ODADAS Division of Planning, Outcomes and Research.
To read the full state report, go to the online version of this story on Ohio.com.
Rick Armon can be reached at 330-996-3569 or email@example.com.