Ohio’s Campaign for Responsible Gambling Targets College Students

Published on: August 6, 2022, 11:08 am.

Last update: August 6, 2022, 11:08 am.

It’s almost time for students to head to campus for the start of the school year. In Ohio, responsible gambling advocates are taking this opportunity to raise awareness of how prevalent problem gambling behaviors are among young adults.

Ohio campaign
A social media ad created as part of Ohio’s “Get Set Before You Bet” responsible gambling campaign. Last week, the campaign launched a toolkit to educate students about problem gambling behaviours. (Image: Prevention Action Alliance)

According to Get Set Before You Bet, 75% of college students said they have bet in some way. In addition, college students are more likely to develop gambling problems. At 6 percent, the rate for these young adults nationally is more than double the rate for the total population.

“Get Set Before You Bet” is an awareness campaign created by Prevention Action Alliance, a Columbus-based certified prevention agency that helps communities create safe environments. The campaign receives funding and support from Ohio for Responsible Gambling (ORG), a state initiative that brings together the state’s lottery, casino and racing commissions in partnership with the state Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services.

Funding for the campaign comes from gaming taxes generated in the state.

The toolkit focuses on students

Last week, the Prevention Action Alliance announced the creation of an online toolkit specifically to promote awareness of problem gambling developing among college students.

The toolkit includes resources for colleagues, including handouts and print and online advertisements promoting the initiatives.

It includes a nine-question quiz that students can take to identify their risk of developing problem gambling behaviors. It also offers advice about gambling responsibly, such as setting limits on how much you can gamble and encouraging students to take up hobbies that don’t involve gambling.

The toolkit also informs students about the impact of gambling on mental health. It’s an important topic because in recent years, numerous studies have found increases in anxiety and depression among college students.

“Gambling should not be used as a coping mechanism or a form of escape,” a leaflet in the toolkit states. “Instead of gambling, try joining a campus club, playing your favorite sport through an intramural league, or having a weekly dinner with friends.”

Earlier this year, researchers at Boston University released a study that analyzed eight years of data involving 350,000 students at more than 300 colleges. From 2013 to 2021, the study found a 135 percent increase in students with depression and a 110 percent increase in students experiencing anxiety. In addition, twice as many students met the criteria for at least one mental health problem in 2021 than were found in 2013.

The Student Toolkit is just one of several available at Get Set Before You Bet. Other toolkits have been created for populations such as the elderly, veterans, minority communities, and youth influencers.

Sports betting is coming to Ohio

The college’s awareness campaign also comes as Ohio prepares to license sports betting. Organizers say the expansion into Ohio could lead to a potential increase in the number of students who develop gambling problems.

For students who enjoy rooting for their college sports teams, sports betting offers another way to place bets on everything from the College Football Playoff to March Madness and more.” ORG said in a blog post about the campaign aimed at students.

Sports betting is not the only issue of concern to students, as advocates also note that fantasy sports games, card games and other forms of gambling – both in person and online – are available to students on campuses.

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