New Jersey Gambling Treatment Court Proposal Supported by Nevada Jurist

Posted on: July 15, 2021, 02:53h. 

Last updated on: July 15, 2021, 03:21h.

A Nevada judge who set up and oversaw that state’s alternative court for gambling-related cases wants to see a similar program adopted in New Jersey.

It took nearly 10 years to create Nevada's first standalone gambling court
Judge Cheryl Moss, pictured in a Nevada courtroom. The now-retired Nevada jurist is advocating for gambling courts in New Jersey and elsewhere. She set up the one in Nevada. (Image: YouTube)

Recently retired Judge Cheryl Moss told she backs the proposal, which would establish the New Jersey Gambling Treatment Diversion Court.

Under introduced legislation, qualified defendants charged in gambling-related crime would take part in a treatment program that lasts between 18 and 36 months. That is similar to the Nevada program. 

The bill would also set up a specialized court in three regions in New Jersey: North, Central, South.

Nevada Experience

Before retiring, Moss presided over many cases in Nevada’s first Gambling Treatment Diversion Court (GTDC). Through a far-reaching process, it has given multiple defendants a new chance at life after they committed crimes to further their gambling habits.

If a defendant successfully completes the GTDC program, their felony conviction is dismissed or set aside…. It would give the individual a clean slate,” Moss explained.

That means the defendant can work at a job and career. They also can make restitution if needed.

“When I ran Nevada’s GTDC court, I would see my participants every two weeks,” she recalled. “We did drug testing, we checked on their treatment, their attendance at GA [Gamblers Anonymous] meetings, their budget, their financials, and did location monitoring.”

Some of the defendants appearing before her were facing four to 10-year prison sentences. But with the proper supervision and guidance, the participants often achieved recovery and left a life of crime.

It took nearly 10 years to create Nevada’s first stand-alone gambling court. Moss heard her first two gambling court cases on Nov. 30, 2018.

Other locations use the Nevada court as a model. Language from the New Jersey bill largely comes from the Nevada law.

Additional input came from members of the New Jersey Gambling Court Initiative’s (NJGCI) advisory group. “Candidly, the New Jersey legislation is a much better improvement from its Nevada predecessor,” Moss said. 

The New Jersey bill also comes as sports betting and online wagering increase.

“With more access and opportunities for gambling, New Jersey will undoubtedly see an increase in disordered gamblers,” Moss predicts.  “Most of these gamblers will have no prior criminal history and will find themselves for the first time in a criminal courtroom.”

Inspired By Her Mother

Well before Moss first got appointed a judge in 2001, her mother, Dr. Rena M. Nora, who was chief of psychiatry at the Las Vegas Veterans Administration Medical Center, began advocating for the treatment of gamblers. Moss continues with her late mother’s commitment to these issues.

“Gambling will never go away, it’s an exciting form of entertainment. But for the 6.3 percent in New Jersey of those who meet the criteria for disordered gambling,… it gives second chances to participants, and it will indeed reduce the recidivism rate.”