Legislatures in New Jersey and Washington state will consider creating alternative courts for people whose crimes are associated with gambling disorders.
The concept originated in 2018 with Las Vegas Judge Cheryl Moss, now retired. Moss believed that court-ordered treatment in lieu of incarceration would help gamblers work toward recovery, and also save money for the state by keeping them out of jail.
By one estimate, the price to keep a person in state custody in New Jersey is about $66,000 a year, which doesn’t factor in legal representation and other costs.
According to Pechanga.net, three U.S. states already have alternative court systems for people convicted of gambling-related financial crimes: Ohio, Nevada and New York.
New Jersey Senator Nicholas P. Scutari is the sponsor of that state’s bill, and Rep. Chris Stearns is the lead sponsor of the bill in Washington.