Local 12: Experts worry about rise in gambling addiction in Ohio as legalized sports betting begins

UC expert says sports betting numbers in Ohio are expected to jump with legalized gambling

As of the start of 2023, online and live sports betting became legal in Ohio, causing some concern among mental health experts over the possibility of a jump in the number of problem gamblers statewide. One of the experts cited in a story produced by WKRC-TV, Local 12 is Gregory Stewart, PhD, of the Department of Social Work at the UC College of Allied Health Sciences, who says there are about 250,000 people in Ohio currently with a gambling problem, with 16% of those under the age of 18.

Stewart says that according to the Problem Gambling Network of Ohio, in the month of December 2022 the Ohio Problem Gambling Helpline received 635 calls. In the first ten days of January 2023, the Helpine received 553 calls. 

Gregory Stewart, PhD, of the Department of Social Work at the UC College of Allied Health Sciences

Gregory Stewart, PhD, of the School of Social Work at the UC College of Allied Health Sciences

Stewart tells Local 12 it is hard to predict how much those numbers will go up with legalized sports betting, especially since gamblers can place wagers on their smartphones.

But the number could be big.

"Ohio being a large state within the United States, we're anticipating a dramatic increase in individuals participating,” Stewart said. “And because of that large participation, a certain percentage of those individuals will experience problems with their gambling."

See the entire Local 12 story here

UC is one of six organizations statewide to get an Ohio grant to train social workers to better handle problem gamblers in the coming year. The school received $15,000 and is the only university to get a grant. The program will be open to UC’s current social work faculty and students, as well as alumni.

Walter says the goal of the Consultation Project is to assist problem gambling service providers in the delivery of comprehensive services throughout the continuum of care. This includes intake and assessment procedures, referral to treatment, clinical and prevention services, human resources, marketing & communications, and internal policy. The Consultation Project is comprised of training, consultation meetings, staff rounds, and an outcome evaluation.

There will be two events in 2023 to expand problem gambling treatment knowledge of Ohio social workers. The first is a problem gambling treatment ethics workshop on Friday, Jan. 20, which is free to all UC School of Social Work alumni, faculty, adjunct faculty, agency-based field instructors, and social work students. Use this link to pre-register for the event:


The second event will take place on March 31, 2023,  when the UC Social Work Alumni Day will focus on problem gambling treatment.

Lead photo/Susan Haigh/AP

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