Ohio Lottery Commission
Problem Gambling Awareness Department
by: Julie Ault
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As part of our responsibility and commitment to the state of Ohio and to our citizens, the Ohio Lottery Commission, in 1989 became the first lottery to establish a program to increase the public's awareness that "compulsive gambling" is a treatable illness. Since then several other lotteries have responded to problem gambling, mostly through legislative mandate. Some legislative mandates require lotteries to spend up to $2 million to address the issues of problem and pathological gambling. The Ohio Lottery is the only lottery in the nation to take a direct role in addressing the challenges of problem gambling by staffing a full time in-house department specifically to address problem gambling and without legislative mandate.
In June 1996, as another part of our overall integrity, the Ohio Lottery further increased its efforts in the area of problem gambling. The Problem Gambling Department was expanded to include a deputy director and a full-time staff of five individuals. The department provides information and services for education, prevention, outreach and training and provides referrals for treatment programs.
The department maintains a problem gambling hotline with an 800-number with a referral service so that callers may seek professional assistance. Gambling informational packets are mailed to each caller. Caller data is maintained and recorded for research information. The referral listing for the department includes 242 resources and professional services throughout the state of Ohio.
The Ohio Lottery Commission also allocates an expenditure of $50,000 for each fiscal year for a sponsorship package to the Ohio Council on Problem Gambling. The sponsorship includes advertising for the newsletter, training of hotline volunteers, printing and preparation of education materials, as well as two-day task force and one-day training workshops.
Counselors and mental health professionals that are included on the referral listing for the Problem Gambling Awareness Department have been afforded the opportunity to receive national gambling certification at no cost due to the the sponsorship of the Ohio Council on Problem Gambling by the Ohio Lottery. The 60 hours of gambling certification classes are held on a quarterly basis in different geographic locations throughout the State of Ohio. The certification classes are conducted by instructors from the National Council on Problem Gambling Members of the senior staff of the Ohio Lottery have also attended these classes as well.
Ohio Revised Code Sec.3770.02 (G) was also amended to expand the director's capability to expend funding to problem gambling organizations for education, prevention and treatment of problem and pathological gambling.
In February of 1997, the Ohio Lottery initiated a "Please Play Responsibly" campaign designed to educate the public, primarily lottery players, to play responsibly when playing all lottery games. The campaign slogan and logo are found on all Ohio Lottery tickets, Ohio Lottery publications, and is utilized in all Ohio Lottery advertising venues. Stickers reminding lottery players to "Please Play Responsibly" appear on lottery terminals and instant ticket vending machines throughout the State. In addition notices regarding the prohibition of the sale of lottery tickets to minors are also displayed.
An active public awareness campaign contributes to the public's confidence in the lottery. Positive public perception and trust are essential to the operation of any lottery.
With a greater proliferation of gambling throughout the nation, there is a need for more sensitivity to those individuals who should not be playing our games, even though we know that to be a very small percentage of our players.
The Ohio Lottery has established a cooperative relationship with the National Council on Problem Gambling and the American Gaming Association. Since the Ohio Lottery's commitment to increasing public awareness of problem gambling, a growing number of programs and individual professionals have become involved in providing services to problem gamblers and their families in conjunction with the Ohio Lottery. Services provided by these entities include both in-patient and out-patient services.
Departmental brochures and referral listings have been printed as well as the meaning of "Please Play Responsibly". All of these items are available in Lottery Central, Lottery regional offices and Lottery agent retailers. We have established a comprehensive and detailed program package that has been made available to many other states and state lotteries on the problem gambling department and the on-going efforts in Ohio.
The Ohio Lottery's Problem Gambling Awareness department has had representation at several national conferences and has conducted work sessions at the National Council on Problem Gambling's annual conferences. The Problem Gambling Department is part of the Ohio Lottery's state wide speaker's bureau and was most recently featured in the December 1997 issue of LaFleur's Lottery World Magazine and the September 1998 and October 1998 issues of Public Gaming International. The National Gambling Impact Study Commission also commended the Ohio Lottery for our problem gambling program.
The Ohio Lottery received the prestigious "Industry Award" at the conference sponsored by the National Council on Problem Gambling in June 1998, for the contributions and initiatives in the field of problem and pathological gambling.
A public service announcement on "Please Play Responsibly" has been developed and is in the final editing stages. The 30 second message will be incorporated into lottery advertising for television and radio.
A project currently in progress is a research initiative to determine the level of support for problem gambling programs in the United States and Canada. The research will be made available in October, 1999.
A line item and statutory language change has been included in the biennium budget for 2000-2001 to allow the Ohio Lottery to directly expend funding for gambling treatment programs. In addition a bill was introduced and added to the Lottery's requirements. Beginning in September, one of nine commissioners for the Ohio Lottery must have a background in compulsive gambling. The Lottery has a board of nine commissioners that provide recommendations to the Director of the Lottery and his staff on industry issues at monthly meetings.
I am very proud of the strides that the Ohio Lottery has taken in addressing problem and pathological gambling. The report from the National Gambling Impact Study Commission in 1999 should have a profound effect on the issues related to responsible gaming and addressing problem gambling.
The Lottery industry, because of its public nature, needs to be sensitive to the problems gambling can create for individuals, society, and within the industry itself. A pro-active approach in dealing with the issue of problem and pathological gambling instills a confidence, that the public requires of the lottery industry as a good corporate citizen.
The Ohio Lottery has responded to the challenge of problem gambling without legislative mandate in an effort to become a part of the solution of problem gambling rather than being perceived as part of the problem. The Ohio Lottery continues to establish constructive working relationships with agencies, independent organizations and consumers for education and prevention of problem and underage gambling.
Remember: Gambling is not the problem…Problem Gambling Is.
Ms. Ault is the Deputy Director of the Problem Gambling Awareness Department of the Ohio Lottery Commission. She began employment at the Ohio Lottery in March 1991 under the Governor Voinovich administration. Ms. Ault served as the Regional Manager in the Youngstown region from March 1991 until June 1996. She was Promoted to Assistant Deputy Director of Sales in June 1996, and later promoted to Deputy Director of Problem Gambling Awareness Department in September 1996. Julie Ault has a bachelor's degree in counseling from Bethany College and Ohio University. She Spent four years counseling juveniles with substance abuse problems, depression, personality disorders, etc. She has studied Business Management at Kent State University's post-graduate program. Ms. Ault is a board member of the National Council on Problem Gambling Inc., and the Ohio Council on Problem Gambling Inc. She is a consultant to the gaming industry including lotteries, casinos, vendors, pari-mutuels, and racing commissions. Julie Ault has provided information and testimony to the National Gambling Impact Study Commission
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