CLEVELAND — Scottie Barclay of Maple Heights is a Browns fan who is urging those who bet on sports to use caution after he watched a family member slip into gambling addiction.
Barclay and his fellow Browns fan, and neighborhood friend, Johnny Tatonetti enjoy watching NFL games in Barclay’s basement Browns man cave, along with Barclay’s bulldog Georgia.
But both warn about the potential addictive nature of sports betting, especially with growing accessibility via phone apps and more.
“It’s just like a drug, in fact, it is a drug, it’s very addictive, you’re always chasing that dollar,” Barclay said. “I have a family member who had a big gambling problem, and I watched everything slip away from him, losing his house, job, car, and family.”
Michael Buzzelli, who is the Associate Director of the Problem Gambling Network of Ohio,told News 5 that his agency is fighting back against growing gambling addiction in the Buckeye State with the expanding Ohio Gambling Telehealth Network. Buzzelli said Ohio residents can quickly get to a qualified gambling counselor online by simply contacting the Ohio Problem Gambling Helpline at 800-589-9966.
“You can do this in the comfort of your own home and we’re really trying to mirror the accessibility of gambling. If gambling is incredibly accessible, treatment for gambling problems needs to be just as accessible,” Buzzelli said. “This is online gambling addiction therapy with gambling addiction treatment experts, the best people in the state that we have trained over the years that have plenty of experience and plenty of expertise.”
Nabil Pervaiz, Manager of Prevention Services with Cleveland’s Recovery Resources, told News 5 that approximately 254,000 Ohioans are dealing with gambling addiction, and about 19% of Ohioans are at risk. Prevaiz said those who are gambling and their families should look for the warning signs of problem gambling, like hiding how much you’re spending, hiding your losses, hiding debts, and asking to borrow money.
“The number one way to tell if this has become a problem is that it’s just not fun anymore,” Pervaiz said. “For us at Recovery Resources I’m even taking a good hard look at our own county data as well, because we’ve even seen an increase just in our own county. At the end of the day, it really is going to come down to education.”
Meanwhile, Barclay had some advice for anyone who may be dealing with sports betting or gambling issues.
“Just don’t let it get out of hand, you know what I’m saying. It’s okay, but if you feel you’re having a problem with it, go seek help,” Barclay said. “Reach out to a family member, tell them what you’re experiencing, and that you need help.”