DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — This is the first year sports betting is legal in Ohio during the NCAA tournament games, and many have been making a wager.

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.

Placing a bet on a game is now easier than ever. 

“Now we can do that through the comfort of wherever we are, in the palm of our hand with our mobile phone, and we saw 95% of sports wagering placed in January was through mobile,” says Derek Longmeier, Executive Director of the Problem Gambling Network of Ohio.

With increased access, also comes increased risks. Longmeier says that’s why they launched the “Pause Before You Play” Campaign. 

“Before you place that first bet on sports or that next bet, make sure you’re doing your due diligence, understanding what that 500 of risk free or free bet really is, how much of your own money you have to put forth, and then what you can do to make sure you’re really keeping track of the amount of dollars that you’re spending, as well as the amount of time you’re spending,” states Longmeier.

With all of the incentives and advertisements, younger people are making wagers. The problem gambling line is seeing more calls among 18- to 34-year-olds. Tristyn Ball, Director of Prevention and Early Intervention Services with Montgomery County ADAMHS, recommends setting limits on time and money spent on sports betting. 

“Making sure we keep it fun, keep it social. Never betting more than you can afford to lose. If I’m betting $50, I need to completely expect to lose $50,” states Ball.

Filling out brackets can be fun and competitive, but when you tie a good deal of money to it, then it can get risky. Recognizing signs of addiction can be difficult. 

“You’ll see increased stress, especially around March Madness time if people’s moods go up and down based on games, that can be an indicator,” says Ball.

Because of the major uptick of calls, local health leaders have recognized they have to do something and they’re taking action.

“As an ADAMHS Board, we’re partnering with the Problem Gambling Network of Ohio to train more clinicians and more counselors to become certified to treat problem gambling.” 35  

If you need help, there are resources available.

You can call Ohio’s gambling helpline 24/7.

The number to call is 1-800-589-9966.

Click here for a quiz to gauge your risk for problem gambling.