Compulsive gamblers can ban themselves from Ohio casinosWritten by Brandi Barhite | Community Ombudsman | firstname.lastname@example.org
Many people will want to visit Hollywood Casino Toledo after it opens May 29.
But some people already know — or will find out — they shouldn’t be anywhere near a place that allows gambling.
For those people, the Ohio Casino Control Commission has a new program in response to the opening of four casinos in Ohio and the gambling addiction that might follow for some.
The voluntary exclusion program gives people the option of putting themselves on a list that bans them from entering an Ohio casino, according to Laura Clemens, who directs the responsible gambling program for the commission.
If those people try to get in, they will be escorted out. If they happen to get in and then win, their winnings will be forfeited, and if they get caught in the casino, they could be charged with trespassing.
“We already have a couple of people on the list and some appointments to get on the list,” Clemens said. “We meet with them and take an application and a photo. We want to make sure it is voluntary.”
Because the list is voluntary, a family member or spouse cannot put a person on it, she said. A person can choose to be on the list for one year, five years or a lifetime.
Although casinos are new to Ohio, gambling addiction is not. Clemens said the Ohio Department of Alcohol & Drug Addiction Services and the Ohio Lottery have offered gambling addiction programs and organized media campaigns for years.
However, the newest radio and TV campaign, “Silence the Addiction,” and the voluntary exclusion program are timed to coincide with the opening of the casinos. Cleveland’s casino opened May 14; Columbus’ casino is opening in the fall and Cincinnati’s casino will open next spring.
“We are putting a larger focus on the resources that are available,” Clemens said. “Many of the resources have been there, but we want to make sure people know about them.”
A study is being completed to gauge the gambling situation in Ohio and make sure the resources are adequate.
The cities that are opening casinos are being “over surveyed,” Clemens said, although the survey also addresses lottery gambling and playing poker with friends.
“We aren’t saying don’t gamble, we are saying gamble responsibly,” Clemens said. “Go in with a certain amount of money and when that is gone, stop. Or go to a casino for two hours and then leave.”
For those who suspect they have a problem, Clemens suggested starting with a call to the Ohio Problem Gambling Helpline at (800) 589-9966.
Those who call will talk to a real person, not a machine, she said. If someone wants to be added to the exclusion list, to get the process started email Laura.Clemens@casinocontrol.ohio.gov.