AUSTINTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – March is Problem Gambling Awareness Month. There are consumer protections in place to encourage responsible play and offer support to those who need it.

At Hollywood Gaming in Austintown, workers are trained to spot players who may be having a problem with their play.

“They don’t want people here gambling that have a problem, right? This is supposed to be for fun and entertainment, and we want to be able to come together to be able to offer support to those people that do need it,” said Stephanie Geer, the gambling problem coordinator at Meridian Healthcare.

Monday, the people who treat gambling problems met with the Problem Gambling Network of Ohio and Hollywood Gaming to learn more about the consumer protections in place.

The Problem Gambling Network of Ohio says they’ve been averaging about 50 calls a day since the first of the year. Calls to the helpline have increased 227% over the last year.

Michael Buzzelli, of the Problem Gambling Network of Ohio, said the state has more clinicians than other states who are trained to specialize in gambling addiction. Ohio has had legal casinos since 2012 and added sports gambling in January.

“Having these venues like Mahoning Valley, kind of, you know, draws the veil back and shows what it is that they do and how they train their staff. It’s a great way to let folks know that again, we work together in this state,” explained Buzzelli.

Ohio also has a Time Out program in which you can ban yourself from a gambling property for one year, five years, or for life. And players can find gambling help brochures throughout every casino property about ways to seek assistance for a gambling problem.

1-800 GAMBLER is the simplest way to get help for a gambling problem. Or find more resources at