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Ohio’s First Problem Gambling Court Program Launches in Cleveland

Published: December 19, 2022

In a step to ensure that people involved in the criminal justice system can access the resources they need, the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court in Cleveland has launched a problem gambling screening program. The referral program is the first of its kind in Ohio and officials expect it to be among the largest court-related programs of its type in the country. 

“A primary goal of our Court is to help individuals overcome the difficulties that brought them into the justice system,” said Cuyahoga County Administrative and Presiding Judge Brendan J. Sheehan. “By treating a person’s problem gambling addiction, we hope to eliminate the source of these criminal acts.”

As a part of the program, special court probation officers have been trained to administer a program that helps people recover from problem gambling, in partnership with certified counselors from the Cleveland-based t nonprofit Recovery Resources. Screening of participants began on October 17th, 2022.

A person can be referred to the program during the criminal justice process or by the judge who in charge of the case. If a person finishes the program successfully, they are eligible to have their felony charge dismissed at the discretion of the assigned judge, eliminating the possibility of a felony conviction on their record. “The goal is to break the cycle of addiction and to minimize the chance that they will return to the criminal justice systems,” Sheehan told WOSU.

The innovative program was the result of a collaboration between state and local partners, including the court, Recovery Resources, Ohio for Responsible Gambling, the Ohio Lottery Commission, the Ohio Casino Control Commission, and the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (OhioMHAS). 

The new program arrives just as legal sports betting is about to begin in Ohio on January 1, 2023, which local responsible gambling experts expect to result in a greater number of people struggling with problem gambling. Sports betting-related calls to the Ohio Problem Gambling Helpline have already increased by 32% in the past year.   

To learn more about the risks of sports betting and the impact it will have on responsible gaming in Ohio, watch the new Pause Before You Play PSA video, and access free and educational resources at

And if you are concerned about your sports betting habits or the habits of a loved ones, trained and understanding specialists will answer your call to the #ProblemGamblingHelpline 24/7 and offer free and confidential support. Make the call now at 1-800-589-9966 or text 4HOPE to 741741. 

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