COLUMBUS (AP) -- The Ohio Lottery Commission is trying to draw attention to serious messages about problem gambling by depicting the outcomes of some humorous bets.
A bearded man dancing atop a table with rhythmic gymnastics ribbons and another guy wearing a dog costume as he crouches in a crowded elevator are among the characters in the "I Lost a Bet" media campaign, which includes short television ads and billboards.
The ads refer to the campaign website, where the funny scenes precede serious messages about the damaging effects that problem gambling can have on people's lives.
"It's the applesauce with the medicine," the lottery's marketing director, Sandi Lesko Mounts, told The Columbus Dispatch (http://bit.ly/1c0IOgk).
The ads target the population segment statistically shown to be most at risk of being hooked on gambling: young adults in the 18-to-34 age range, especially men.
"This is to draw in that demographic that doesn't really like being told what to do," Lesko Mounts said. "They love mobile, they live online, they won't call an 800 number. We're a thread being woven into the fabric of that conversation."
The campaign has a $2 million budget, funded by part of the taxes paid by the Ohio horse-racing tracks that have added slots-like video machines. About $1.5 million was spent on the TV time and on having a Cincinnati advertising firm create the ads. They're part of the Ohio for Responsible Gambling collaboration between the lottery, casino and racing commissions and the state Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services.