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    10TV: Canal Winchester man recovering from sports gambling addiction shares his story

    By Clay Gordon
    WBNS — 10TV

    It has been months since Sean Martin placed a bet. He started gambling on sports when Ohio legalized it on Jan. 1, 2023.

    “I started to tinker, didn’t really go crazy, but then [it] started to kind of progress,” he said. “I’m betting once a week and then now I’m betting twice a week. I’m not a scratch-off guy. I’m not a lotto ticket guy but you know, throwing a parlay together or betting on a couple of games, it’s kind of like a cool way to play the lottery. Turn 10 bucks into a few 100 bucks turned 50 bucks into 1,000 bucks.”

    Martin would wake up at all hours of the night and bet on sports happening in different time zones. He would watch and gamble on baseball in Japan and basketball in China.

    “I was doing it for fun. And then, I started to see my funds dwindle, and then I’m chasing losses, and I’m telling myself, I need to recoup these losses,” said Martin. “I’m a liar, I’m lying to my fiancé… I’m trying to cover my tracks…. and eventually you have mounted up a wall of debt that seems insurmountable.”

    Martin’s debt was in the five-figure range. He has now consolidated his debt and is on the right path, a similar struggle he was able to get through with drug and alcohol addiction. He is now five and a half years sober and attributes his recovery to his fiancé and his faith in a higher power.

    “I’m very blessed and very lucky to be with someone who understands sobriety and what it takes to stay sober,” he said. “When I think that I’m in control of 100% of everything, I become selfish, I become self-centered. I started to not pay attention to people’s wants and needs that are the closest in my life. When I started to put my faith in things… [it’s] going to work out. I still have problems, but I’m able to work through them as an honest, loving, responsible adult.”

    Martin is not alone. The Ohio Problem Gambling Helpline saw a 55% increase in contacts in the last year since sports betting was legalized, according to Maryhaven.

    The National Council on Problem Gambling ranks Ohio as seventh in calls and texts to the problem gambling hotline. Between Dec. 1, 2023, and May 2, 2024, there have been 148,910 calls to the National Problem Gambling Hotline and 2,526 text messages.

    “We saw an increase in calls to Maryhaven, during the year in which sports gambling was legalized in Ohio, we’ve seen an increase in young men usually between the ages of 18 and 26, getting help for sports betting,” said Abdullah Mahmood with Maryhaven.

    It’s the rapid pace of play that Mahmood says separates sports betting from other types of gambling.

    “As long as I take care of what I’m going to do, things are going to work themselves out, no matter how big the debt it,” Martin said.

    If you or someone you love struggles with a gambling addiction, call the Ohio Problem Gambling Helpline at 1-800-589-9966.