'I Lost A Bet' anti-gambling campaign causes controversy

You may have noticed billboards around the town with the caption 'I Lost A Bet.'

The anti-gambling ads, sponsored by the Ohio Lottery Commission, portray some sort of funny character - but compulsive gambling is no laughing matter.

It's estimated that as many as 20-million Americans have a gambling problem which can lead to bankruptcy, devastates families and even suicide. But the Ohio Lottery Commission has launched a campaign aimed at young people to raise their awareness about compulsive gambling before it becomes a problem.

Sandy Lesko Mounts, the Ohio Lottery Commission's Deputy Director of Marketing Communications, says a lot of research was done to determine the most vulnerable age group.

"You want to do something effective that has an impact. That means something that really might help in the long run stave off the problem of addiction to gambling," said Mounts. "Where it starts at the beginning which we determined was in this age group of 18 to 24-year-old straight to work males."

Some of the ads portray humorous consequences of losing a bet, but Janice Uible who - describes herself as a compulsive gambler - says she's not laughing.

"I don't think there's anything humorous about gambling," said Uible.

Uible says her gambling became a problem following the death of her mother in 2010. She's lost tens of thousands of dollars, but she admits it provides relief from stress.

"When I was gambling, I did not notice my pain," she said. "How easy it is to keep pushing the button, pushing the button. You don't think about anything else."

Janice has tried gamblers anonymous and is now seeing a therapist, but she says she continues to play the slot machines.

"It has made me feel shameful because most people that I know do not think it's such a good thing," said Uible.

Mounts says the ilostabet.org tries to provide some help.

"When someone comes to the site, they see very clearly the warning signs of problem gambling," said Mounts "They get tips on how to talk to a friend about it."

Billboards for 'I Lost a Bet' are placed in neighborhoods where 18 to 24-year-old males live. The campaign has gone digital and mobile.

March is gambling awareness month and the folks at the Ohio Lottery Commission say their campaign has been very successful.

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