AUSTINTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The Austintown racino expansion that will add 75 new video lottery terminals is being pushed back a few days.
Instead of Sept. 1, the new machines will be in play sometime before Labor Day, which is Sept. 7. The project costs $975,000.
And while the Austintown racino prepares for its expansion, Hollywood Gaming at Mahoning Valley Racecourse officials are focusing on helping those with a gambling addiction, which is part of a week-long initiative known as Responsible Gaming Education Week.
This is the first time the Austintown racino is participating since it opened almost a year ago. They partnered with Meridian Community Care to offer educational materials to its patrons.
“Sometimes it’s just as simple as giving them a pamphlet on how to be responsible. Other times, it is more serious than that,” gambling counselor Lynn Burkey said.
He said Meridian gets about five phones calls a month, including referrals from Ohio’s Problem Gambling Hotline. That is up about one or two calls since the state opened casinos and racinos in the past three years.
But, Burkey does not attribute the increase specifically to Austintown’s racino.
“We think that probably from two to three years after the place opens, that is the big push, and the state is looking at that too. They think two to three years after gambling takes over in the state is when there will be a big increase,” he said.
In a 2012 survey, the state found more than 250,000 Ohioans are at risk of a gambling addiction. They plan to do another survey to compare those numbers in 2016.
This year alone, the Ohio Lottery Commission is spending $2.5 million of the state’s $3 million in funds for responsible gaming initiatives on marketing campaigns.
You’ll be seeing additional public awareness messaging not only this week with Responsible Gaming Week, but in the months to come,” Karen Russo of the Ohio Lottery Commission said.
If you need information on responsible gaming, Ohio’s Problem Gambling Hotline is 1-800-589-9966.