Self-imposed ban for problem gamblers could change

Thursday, August 25, 2011 | 7:54 a.m. CDT; updated 11:16 a.m. CDT, Thursday, August 25, 2011

JEFFERSON CITY — Problem gamblers who have excluded themselves from casinos could be allowed to make bets again under new rules examined Wednesday by Missouri regulators.

The proposed changes would allow people who have chosen to ban themselves for life from Missouri casinos to have that prohibition lifted after at least five years. Individuals could choose to be banned a second time but doing so would mean a lifetime prohibition. Casinos would be required to inform state regulators whether they intend to allow people who previously excluded themselves from gambling.

Missouri's self-exclusion program, developed in 1996, is designed to be a recovery tool for problem gamblers. It allows people who live in Missouri or other states to voluntarily bar themselves from casinos in Missouri. Individuals who participate can be charged with a misdemeanor for criminal trespassing if they are found in a casino in Missouri.

Making changes to Missouri's 15-year-old self-exclusion program requires a process that could last for months, and the new rules would not be effective before the end of next March. The Missouri Gaming Commission decided Wednesday to move forward with the possible changes. Public comments will be accepted from Oct. 3 to Nov. 1.

Under the proposed changes, individuals who want to remove themselves from the banned list would submit an application that includes their name, date of birth, gender, photograph and other information that identifies them. A statement explaining that the person wants to be taken off the list and accepts full responsibility for any adverse consequences would also be included.

Once the process is completed, a notice of removal would be mailed to the person.

Officials said 15,950 people are listed as having barred themselves from Missouri casinos. Of those, they said, about 7,900 people would be eligible for removal from the list if the changes were to take effect at the end of March.

Regulators said Missouri was the first state to develop a program in which gamblers can voluntarily exclude themselves from casinos. Iowa and Michigan also offer a lifetime casino ban.

Mike Winter, executive director for the Missouri Gaming Association, said the changes could prompt more people to add themselves to the self-exclusion list. He said the changes being considered in Missouri align with what other states do.

"I think the research that's out there supports looking at a smaller time frame than a lifetime ban," Winter said. "I think there may be individuals out there who may have considered the exclusion list but for the lifetime ban. Hopefully if there are folks out there who have gambling problems and need to exclude themselves, they would feel more comfortable doing it."

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James Krewson August 25, 2011 | 9:11 a.m.

This obviously isn't being well thought out. The people who put themselves on the permanent ban do so for good reason, just like alcoholics ban themselves from drinking. The permanent ban works. Don't give the serious gambling addicts a way around it. This addiction is the most deadly of all addictions, more die from suicide as a result of gambling than those who die from alcohol. Please think about this before changing the existing rules.

(Report Comment)
Robert Acree August 25, 2011 | 1:05 p.m.

The thought that an addict can allow himself to return to whatever addiction he may have is not very logical. If anything needs to be changed it is the self referral system for addicted gamblers. Presently, family members who are affected by the addiction cannot refer the addict for exclusion. The law only allows for the addict to refer himself!

(Report Comment)
Courtney Kline September 29, 2011 | 3:04 p.m.

It is obvious that neither one of you have even thought any of your statements out before writing them. I for one was put on the list because my wife at the time asked me to. It was not that I had a problem by any means but I went with my friends to get away from her for a while and have a good time. And you want to explain to me that I should not be able to get back on? Maybe you should think about your comments before your post them and analyze everything. How would like to have something that you enjoy doing taken away from you and then you are given a second chance to do it again and you are not breaking the law in any way? You would love it. You would do everything you could to get that back. I have friends that are on the list right now and they still go to the casino all of the time because Missouri lifted the $500 loss limit and now they can. I, for one, refuse to though because I do not want to take a chance of being arrested for trespassing. Again, analyze everything and think about other people before you ramble on with non-sense. TIL THEN, FALL BACK!!!!

(Report Comment)
Paul Allaire September 29, 2011 | 6:45 p.m.

Send them to IRAQ!!!

(Report Comment)

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