The High Stakes of Gambling

Billions of dollars in sports wagers already placed in Ohio.
Published: Mar. 14, 2023 at 6:42 AM EDT
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - In just the first full month of legalized sports betting, Ohioans have shelled out $1.1 billion in wagers. That’s a staggering number far exceeding the state’s projections.

“That’s $100 for every man, woman and child,” Steve Kapela said. Kapela is a recovering addict who also happens to serve as the Director of Gambling, Prevention, and Recovery Support Services at the Zepf Center in Toledo. Before Jan. 1 Ohioans had to travel out of state if they wanted to place a wager on a sporting event.

“Before there was Ohio gambling, there was Michigan gambling. We’ve had many clients who sat in parking lots all night sports betting and engaging in Michigan sports venues who now don’t have to go across the state line, who sit on their couch in the evening,” Kapela added.

Due to the accessibility of being able to wager on games from your phone within the Buckeye state, some addiction experts worry that the warning signs of addiction may go unnoticed.

“There’s substance-based addiction and we all get that. Then there’s gambling-based addictions and those are hidden,” Kapela shared. “I’ve had people in my office who’ve lost 60-thousand dollars in an afternoon. They didn’t smell like gambling, they didn’t slur their words.”

“We pride ourselves in having the gold standard in responsible gaming.”

Brad Hirsch - General Manager, Hollywood Casino

“We pride ourselves in having the gold standard in responsible gaming,” Hollywood Casino general manager Brad Hirsch said.

Hollywood Casino recently welcomed Barstool Sportsbook.

“We take part in the state’s commitment to responsible gaming. We also take part in the state’s timeout program. We have representative from the Ohio Casino Control commission here as well that partner with us.”

Hollywood Casino representatives tell 13abc they are committed to identifying problem sports betting. But what happens when people slip through the cracks?

“When we talk about gambling being a harmless addiction, people don’t overdose from gambling - they commit suicide. They end up in divorce court, in bankruptcy court, in felony court for embezzlement,” Kapela noted.

“If anyone individual identifies that they’re distressed or having challenges with control or if they’re looking for help. We’re immediately available to put them in contact with resources here and resources in the community,” Hirsch countered.

There’s noticeable and understandable excitement among sports fans now that sports gaming is legal in Ohio. The experts at the Zepf offered some advice to temper some expectations you may have if you plan to use wagering on sports to fatten your wallets.

“That this is not a way to make money,” Steve Kapela warned. “As passionate as you are about your team and you may know the statistics going back to 1954 but that doesn’t you’re going to be able to predict what will happen on the next play, next day, or the next series or the next anything. And I don’t know about you but I’m not that lucky.”

For a list of warning signs of problem gambling, visit Problem Gambling Warning Signs. For more information on Ohio Casino Control Commission, click here.

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