Ohio gambling survey to give pre-casino picture

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - State leaders were scheduled to unveil a survey of gambling habits in pre-casino Ohio on Monday.

The survey to be released through Ohio for Responsible Gambling, a state government initiative, was designed to give policymakers a baseline idea of Ohioans' attitudes and behaviors toward gaming establishments before legalized casino gaming is fully up and running.

Laura Clemons, problem gambling program coordinator for the Ohio Casino Commission, said the survey found Ohio is in line with national averages: 3-5 percent of residents are problem gamblers today, and about 1 percent are compulsive gamblers.

She said the study was extensive. It includes demographic and income data as well as information on where, when and why Ohioans gamble - and how much they spend.

Results will be used in two or three years to identify pockets of need around the state as they arise, and to make the best use of the 2 percent of casino proceeds that are being directed to tackle gambling addiction.

"The thought is we're going to know which areas of the state we need to focus on. Do we have enough treatment providers in Hamilton County? Do you have enough in Lucas County?" she said. "Are 18- to 24-year-olds more at risk in certain areas of the state than in others?"

Clemons said counties that will house the four new casinos - Hamilton, home to Cincinnati; Lucas, home to Toledo; Cuyahoga, home to Cleveland; and Franklin, home to Columbus - were oversampled to get maximum information about those closest to the new facilities.

The state expects to initially invest its problem gaming revenues into prevention efforts, Clemons said.

The Ohio Department of Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services has been designated lead agency in the Ohio for Responsible Gambling initiative, joined by the state casino, lottery and racing commissions. Officials from all four are scheduled to attend the survey presentation.

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