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How problem gamblers can prevent setbacks as casinos/racinos reopen

Published: July 6, 2020

Now that the State of Ohio has permitted the reopening of casinos and racinos during the COVID-19 emergency, people with gambling problems may feel a renewed urge to frequent these facilities. By taking some simple actions now, those with gambling addictions can help guard against unhealthy gambling behaviors and prevent relapses, whether they’re far down the road to recovery or just beginning their journey.

Enroll in the Voluntary Exclusion Program.
The Ohio Casino Control Commission (OCCC) ​and the Ohio Lottery Commission (OLC) offer a Voluntary Exclusion Program (VEP) that enables individuals to ban themselves from Ohio casinos and racinos for one year, five years, or their lifetimes. To enroll, a Request for Voluntary Exclusion Form must be completed in-person with a trained OCCC​/OLC staff member. Upon validation, participants aren’t allowed to enter any Ohio casino or racino throughout the length of their self-imposed ban. If they do attempt to access the facilities, they may be charged with trespassing and compelled to forfeit any ​wagering instruments. To learn more and access all forms, visit the OCCC website.

Stick to a schedule.
To cope with lack of structure and stress as a result of COVID-19 social distancing and time at home, some have created schedules to bring order and a sense of calm to their days. Keeping a daily routine has been shown to have mental health benefits. As more businesses continue to reopen, establishing a routine, including a steady sleep schedule, remains an effective strategy to support overall physical and emotional wellness.

Recognize and respond to triggers.
Gambling triggers can range from emotional, like being in a great mood or feeling stressed about money, to situational, such as being around others who like to gamble or being in the neighborhood of a now-open casino. Learning to identify and accept triggers but choosing not to act on them is an important part of coping and recovery. For those who are unaware of their triggers, keeping a journal may help them understand when and why urges arise.

Talk with loved ones or trusted counselors.
Expressing concerns about returning to casinos can help family and friends of problem gamblers understand their struggles and help them contend with urges in healthy ways. Initiating or continuing conversations with a counselor, therapist, or support group may be especially helpful for those who struggle specifically with casinos and racinos. Find treatment and support services.

For information on responsible gambling practices, visit

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