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Paul Connors/AP

Self-Exclusion Lists Help Gamblers Address Addiction

March 06, 2009 10:30 AM
by Cara McDonough
One thousand gamblers have asked to be banned from casinos in New Jersey, in an attempt to control their problem.

More Gambling Addicts Seeking Help

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New Jersey is one of several states that maintain a self-exclusion list, allowing gamblers to sign up for bans from state casinos for one year, five years or life. During the selected period, casinos are to prevent them from entering and stop sending them advertising.

New Jersey’s self-exclusion list has doubled in three years, reports the Associated Press, and now contains 828 people; the number is lower than 1,000 because some of the gamblers who were signed up for less than a lifetime ban have since removed their names.

"The program is designed to eliminate any financial incentive for the self-excluded gambler to come back into a casino," said Linda Kassekert, chairwoman of the New Jersey Casino Control Commission.

Last year, Pennsylvania, which had 237 people on its self-exclusion list at the time, encouraged more people to sign up during “Problem Gambling Awareness Week” from March 9–15.

The program is nearly identical to New Jersey’s and has yielded many positive results, according to a PRNewswire release. In March 2008, 40 percent of those on the self-inclusion list had sought treatment for their gambling addiction.

Pennsylvania is encouraging gamblers to do the same this month. Problem Gambling Awareness Week—scheduled this year for March 1–7—is a public awareness campaign run by the National Council on Problem Gambling and the Association of Problem Gambling Service Administrators. The campaign has a Web site with many resources for gambling addicts.

Evidence indicates that self-exclusion lists may continue to grow, especially with awareness campaigns on the rise. One study showed that some gambling addicts who join self-exclusion lists have truly run out of other options.

A study released in September found that gamblers of all ages have many reasons for putting themselves on the lists, such as “gaining control, needing help, and hitting rock bottom,” according to HealthDay News. But 14 percent of older gamblers said they chose self-exclusion because they wanted to prevent themselves from committing suicide.

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Related Topic: The struggling gambling industry

Like many industries in the flailing economy, gambling experienced a freeze on growth in 2008. New casinos were put on hold and casino employees were laid off.

Reports this year suggest that outlays at casinos are down and stock prices of gambling businesses aren’t doing well. Las Vegas has been hit hardest of all; the Nevada Gaming Control Board released a report in December 2008 saying that revenue at state casinos had fallen 22 percent in October, compared with the same period in 2007.

The losses led some casino owners to push for more customers. Vegas casino operators began lobbying the Nevada Gaming Control Board to make gambling legal at age 18 in order to increase their consumer base.

“Sin sector” stocks, such as gambling, alcohol and tobacco, have traditionally been a safe bet in economic downturns; 2008 has marked a shift in this tendency. In addition to lower gambling numbers, shares of tobacco conglomerate Altria dropped 11 percent from the start of that year through July 25.

Reference: Addiction

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