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HomeNewsArchivesBill Would Allow Problem Gamblers to Exclude Themselves from Casinos

Bill Would Allow Problem Gamblers to Exclude Themselves from Casinos

Sept. 25, 2007 — A bill providing a way for gamblers who want help stopping to voluntarily exclude themselves from licensed casinos took another step through the legislative process Tuesday.
The bill was passed out of the Committee on Health, Hospitals and Human Services, with some amendments, at a meeting in Frederiksted. Divi Carina Bay, the one casino currently in the territory has a voluntary exclusion list now. The law, should it pass, would give it the force of law, so that a person who opted to self-exclude could be ejected for trespassing. It would shield the Casino Control Commission and the casino from liability for not serving a person who self-excluded.
Testifiers from the Casino Control Commission, the V.I. Alliance for Responsible Gambling and from Divi Casino’s parent company Treasure Bay all supported the concept of the list, but differed on the details.
Eileen Petersen, the chairwoman of the Casino Control Commission, spoke strongly in favor of the bill, endorsing its provisions with only the caveat that more should be done.
“Research suggests that many of those who have developed gambling problems are also likely to be facing a complete set of other issues,” she said. “Therefore we recognize a comprehensive treatment program will need to offer self-exclusion applicants a broad array of options in service. A multi-faceted approach may achieve better results than self-exclusion alone. But the first objective must be successful voluntary self-exclusion.”
Jaslene Williams of the V.I. Alliance for Responsible Gambling agreed on the value of the list, but objected to making it criminal trespassing for someone on the self-exclusion list to be in the casino.
“While we applaud someone being brave enough and admitting there is an issue in their lives stemming from gambling, we must keep in mind this (list) is a voluntary situation,” she said. “To say that one will see this person as a criminal because in their illness, their addiction, they succumb and seek to go to a gaming facility, this is not assistance. It is nothing more than a punitive act. You don’t punish individuals when they are trying to turn their lives around.”
Petersen disagreed, arguing the ability to eject for trespassing was necessary to give the list enforceability, and that people signing the list would be made aware of what they were signing.
Sen. Norman Jn Baptiste, the committee chairman, questioned casino attorney Todd Newman about the possible harmful consequences of the trespassing provision.
“If a person is arrested and charged, doesn’t that go in a person’s police record, for future reference when they may be applying for a job?” he asked.
Newman responded that it would not necessarily reach that point.
“You put that in so law enforcement could walk up and say you are trespassing,” he said. “It’s not to say you have to arrest the person, but that you can tell them to leave. If the person refuses to leave and wants to carry it all the way through, that is kind of two separate things. My thing is if you find me in a casino you have a reason to get me out.”
The senators were not persuaded by Williams, and the provision making it trespassing for a self-excluded gambler to be at a territorial casino remains in the bill.
Sen. James Weber III questioned a provision of the law making three years the minimum time for self-exclusion, and the committee later passed an amendment allowing participants to opt for one-, two- or three-year exclusions.
Upon finding out there used to be a one-year exclusion, Weber asked the president of Divi parent company Treasure Bay, Anton Kuipers, whether as many people signed up after it became a three-year exclusion.
“It is not getting as many people,” Kuiper said. “The three-year exclusion did get people, about 30 percent as many.”
Williams said she agreed with Weber that a shorter exclusionary period would help more people.
After passage of Weber’s amendment allowing shorter exclusion periods and another amendment changing an array of minor technical issues, the committee approved the bill and sent it on. Next it will be addressed in the Rules and Judiciary Committee. If successful there, the full Legislature will vote on it.
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Sept. 25, 2007 -- A bill providing a way for gamblers who want help stopping to voluntarily exclude themselves from licensed casinos took another step through the legislative process Tuesday.
The bill was passed out of the Committee on Health, Hospitals and Human Services, with some amendments, at a meeting in Frederiksted. Divi Carina Bay, the one casino currently in the territory has a voluntary exclusion list now. The law, should it pass, would give it the force of law, so that a person who opted to self-exclude could be ejected for trespassing. It would shield the Casino Control Commission and the casino from liability for not serving a person who self-excluded.
Testifiers from the Casino Control Commission, the V.I. Alliance for Responsible Gambling and from Divi Casino’s parent company Treasure Bay all supported the concept of the list, but differed on the details.
Eileen Petersen, the chairwoman of the Casino Control Commission, spoke strongly in favor of the bill, endorsing its provisions with only the caveat that more should be done.
“Research suggests that many of those who have developed gambling problems are also likely to be facing a complete set of other issues,” she said. “Therefore we recognize a comprehensive treatment program will need to offer self-exclusion applicants a broad array of options in service. A multi-faceted approach may achieve better results than self-exclusion alone. But the first objective must be successful voluntary self-exclusion.”
Jaslene Williams of the V.I. Alliance for Responsible Gambling agreed on the value of the list, but objected to making it criminal trespassing for someone on the self-exclusion list to be in the casino.
“While we applaud someone being brave enough and admitting there is an issue in their lives stemming from gambling, we must keep in mind this (list) is a voluntary situation,” she said. “To say that one will see this person as a criminal because in their illness, their addiction, they succumb and seek to go to a gaming facility, this is not assistance. It is nothing more than a punitive act. You don’t punish individuals when they are trying to turn their lives around.”
Petersen disagreed, arguing the ability to eject for trespassing was necessary to give the list enforceability, and that people signing the list would be made aware of what they were signing.
Sen. Norman Jn Baptiste, the committee chairman, questioned casino attorney Todd Newman about the possible harmful consequences of the trespassing provision.
“If a person is arrested and charged, doesn’t that go in a person’s police record, for future reference when they may be applying for a job?” he asked.
Newman responded that it would not necessarily reach that point.
“You put that in so law enforcement could walk up and say you are trespassing,” he said. “It’s not to say you have to arrest the person, but that you can tell them to leave. If the person refuses to leave and wants to carry it all the way through, that is kind of two separate things. My thing is if you find me in a casino you have a reason to get me out.”
The senators were not persuaded by Williams, and the provision making it trespassing for a self-excluded gambler to be at a territorial casino remains in the bill.
Sen. James Weber III questioned a provision of the law making three years the minimum time for self-exclusion, and the committee later passed an amendment allowing participants to opt for one-, two- or three-year exclusions.
Upon finding out there used to be a one-year exclusion, Weber asked the president of Divi parent company Treasure Bay, Anton Kuipers, whether as many people signed up after it became a three-year exclusion.
“It is not getting as many people,” Kuiper said. “The three-year exclusion did get people, about 30 percent as many.”
Williams said she agreed with Weber that a shorter exclusionary period would help more people.
After passage of Weber’s amendment allowing shorter exclusion periods and another amendment changing an array of minor technical issues, the committee approved the bill and sent it on. Next it will be addressed in the Rules and Judiciary Committee. If successful there, the full Legislature will vote on it.
Back Talk Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.