COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — The start of sports betting in Ohio is just two weeks away, and it’s not only the sportsbooks that are preparing for the Jan. 1, 2023 launch.

Gambling addiction counselors expect they’ll be helping more people with gambling addiction problems. However, they said this is something they’ve been getting ready for, for a long time.

Walking through the Short North section of Columbus, there are advertisements for different sports betting apps, urging you to sign up before Jan. 1. Those advertisements can be seen Downtown, too; three different ones can be seen from one spot.

Bruce Jones, the administrative coordinator for Maryhaven’s Gambling Intervention program, has seen them as well.

“It’s dangling that little golden carrot in front of your face to keep you going, but it’s business, I recognize that, but for the gambler, it’s hard to … it’s a trigger,” he said.

Even though betting on sports doesn’t technically start until the new year, Jones said he’s already helping people having addiction problems related to gambling on sports and is expecting more.

“Just because it’s going to be more accessible usually leads to more possibilities for the addiction,” he said.

Clinicians across Ohio are getting ready. Associate Director of the Problem Gambling Network of Ohio, Michael Buzzelli, said they’ve been preparing for years, doubling the number of training opportunities so more addiction counselors have the expertise in gambling issues.

“Not only do we think we’re prepared to tackle addictions that may come out and treat that population, but we have strong prevention measures to make sure we can stop them before they start,” Buzzelli said.

To those that choose to gamble, Jones said to have a budget and stick to it. He also said to know the warning signs, behavior change being one of them.

“We’re not against gambling, but we want to be there for resources for people when it does become problematic,” Jones said.

Do you believe you have a gambling problem? Click here for a list of resources, or call the Ohio Problem Gambling Hotline at 1 (800) 589-9966.