Bill Would Change New Jersey Casino Self-Exclusion Requirements

A proposed bill could save gamblers some self-admitted shame by removing a requirement that anyone signing up for the list state that they have a gambling problem. Advocates say the simple change would take away some of the stigma of signing up for self-exclusion.

A bill that has cleared a New Jersey State Assembly committee would lift a requirement that gamblers signing up for New Jersey’s casino self-exclusion list admit that they have a gambling problem.

Gamblers in the state can voluntarily sign up to be excluded from New Jersey casinos or to be blocked from gambling online in the state. But to do so, gamblers have to attest that they have a gambling problem.

The bill would waive the gambling problem admission.

Advocates for problem gamblers say the move will take away some of the stigma of signing up for the list.

“Our concern was that some people would not be comfortable with the labeling,” said Donald Weinbaum, head of the state’s Council on Compulsive Gambling to the Associated Press. “We should not put up barriers for anyone who wishes to self-exclude. The terminology is really important. We have heard from a number of community members who questioned why they need to label themselves, or give any reason at all to self-exclude.”

New Jersey currently has 1,575 names on the self-exclusion list. Those signing up can choose to be excluded for one year, five years or for life. Names on the list are not made public.

The bill was cleared by the state Assembly’s Tourism and Gaming Committee.

“Admitting on a document that you are a problem gambler is a step many New Jerseyans may not be ready to make, even if they are confronting their problem,” said Assemblyman Ralph Caputo, an Essex County Democrat who is chairman of the committee. “Many may feel that document is a stigma that can be used against them, but with this option, they are getting some help without having to make that potentially embarrassing admission.”

The bill now goes to the full Assembly.

The same Assembly committee also advanced a bill requiring casinos to put cameras in every stairwell, including parking garages. The cameras must provide casino security staff with clear and continuous visual monitoring and recording of all activity throughout the stairwell at all times, the AP reported.