Time to Screen

By: Bruce Jones

By now you’ve seen the headlines about calls for help doubling or tripling since legal sports betting hit Ohio on Jan. 1. If you need a refresher, here’s one from just a couple of weeks ago.

It should be noted that these increases indicate two things: Yes, more people are reaching out for help (either for themselves or a loved one) AND more people know who to contact for help.

Hopefully this second part does not get lost in the shuffle moving forward, as Ohio has been at the forefront of enforcing that the problem gambling hotline appears prominently in advertising (and not as a throwaway side-effect in a pharmaceutical ad).

But for now, let’s focus on that first point, the volume.

Indeed, at Maryhaven, our calls (to 614-324-5425) and website inquiries (to https://maryhaven.com/gambling/contact/) have doubled compared to prior years. And, as I reflect on this, I’m actually grateful that so many folks have recognized the warning signs early and sought out assistance on how to navigate the issue.

After all, the longer someone waits to confront the issue, the higher the likelihood of things like depression, bankruptcy, theft, divorce and even suicide. There are no physical symptoms of a gambling addiction, so it’s these major crises that result.

It’s why this year’s Problem Gambling Awareness Month is the most important iteration yet. Among other things, #PGAM2023 aims to reduce the stigma around asking for help in the first place.

In particular, my favorite day of the month, is Gambling Screening Day (March 14th), which calls for organizations (and really any organization) to add a problem gambling screening question or two to forms they are already using. Above, I’ve copied my favorite version of this concept, adapted from my colleague Dr. Rachel Volberg and her amazing research in Massachusetts.

The truth is by asking one of these questions, you can help a friend, family member, or even a stranger realize that it’s time to rethink their actions and/or have a confidential conversation with a counselor.

So please, ask!

  1. In the past year, have you been preoccupied with gambling?
  2. Have you needed to gamble with larger amounts of money to get the same feeling of excitement?
  3. Have you often gambled longer, with more money, or more frequently than you intended to?
  4. Have you made attempts to cut down, control or stop gambling?
  5. Have you borrowed money or sold anything to get money to gamble?


If you answered ‘yes’ to any of those questions, please know that our experts are here to talk. We specialize in helping both the gambler and those who love someone who may gamble too much. Call 614-324-5425 or message us on our Contact page for more information.

About the Author

Bruce Jones

Administrative Coordinator LSW, LCDC III, NCGC II

Bruce is a Licensed Social Worker (LSW) and a Nationally-Certified Gambling Counselor Level II who has worked for Maryhaven since 2000. He saw the need for gambling services in Central Ohio in 2009 and asked Maryhaven to apply for a private grant from the Columbus Foundation to target help to those struggling with gambling addiction. The state then supplied funding after his vision was verified with the amount of clients seeking services that first year and Bruce has been working with individuals, family members, and communities ever since.


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