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Cuyahoga County courts providing gambling addiction counseling as Ohio legalizes sports betting

Recovery Resources reports increased calls to Ohio's Gambling Problem Helpline
Cuyahoga County courts now providing gambling addiction counseling as Ohio legalizes sports betting
Posted at 9:58 PM, Dec 28, 2022

CLEVELAND — The Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas is now providing gambling addiction counseling for those convicted of a gambling related crime, as Ohio gets ready to legalize sports betting on Jan.

The initiative is called the Problem Gambling Program, and Cuyahoga County Administrative Presiding Judge Brendan Sheehan said it features specially trained probation officers who will provide gambling addiction help.

“If the Judge puts them on community control sanctions, which is probation, they would have the specialized training and get them counseling," Sheehan said. “We see the bad effects of gambling, but we’ve never been able to screen for it, so here’s a great opportunity to get that screening done before they get incarcerated.”

“It would be mental health, impulse control, counseling, group counseling, thinking for a change, all these tools that we have to help those who have an addiction to gambling," Sheehan added. “If we can see the problem, get to the root of the issue, what makes this person and their criminal behaviors, and get them the treatment they need up front, that will hopefully reduce our jail population.”

Victoria Little, who is a licensed professional counselor with Recovery Resources told News 5 the program will help deal with an increase in calls for gambling addiction counseling.

"Marriages have been cut and estranged, finances where people are getting ready to lose their homes, issues with other family members because they have borrowed money and they were not completely honest about why they were borrowing the money,” Little said. “With sports betting becoming more accessible there definitely is going to be a spike, and I know that we’ve noticed a spike in the last couple of months at Recovery Resources.”

Little urged those who are dealing with gambling addiction issues to contact Recovery Resources or call the Ohio Problem Gambling Helpline at 1-800-589-9966.

Little believes the program will break the cycle of gambling related crime.

“Putting somebody in jail because they stole money because of their gambling issue, what is that fixing for them," Little said. “It is giving them a second chance, and allowing them to see that this is a problem, and trying to fix it so they can go on with their lives.”