Self-Excluded Problem Gamblers in Iowa Given Chance to Lift Their Own Lifetime Casino Bans

Posted on: October 25, 2017, 05:00h. 

Last updated on: October 25, 2017, 05:36h.

A change in the law is giving some self-identified problem gamblers a second chance. About 550 former gamblers in Iowa are taking advantage of a new law that allows people who put themselves on a list to be banned from casinos for life to reduce their self-imposed timeout to five years.

Iowa gambling ban
More than 500 casino gamblers in Iowa have requested to be revoke self-imposed lifetime bans after a new law went into effect July 1. (Image: The Gazette)

The new law went into effect July 1, and with many already having avoided in-state casinos for at least five years, they would be free to re-enter the casino without raising any eyebrows.

Iowa Racing and Gaming Administrator Brian Ohorilko told Radio Iowa that the alteration to the existing law now gives the option of a 5-year self-exclusion along with a lifetime ban. And those who had previously signed the lifetime ban could request to be taken off the list.

“There’s approximately 4,000 people who are eligible to be removed, essentially those are all people who had been on for five years or more,” he said.

While it only takes the governmental agency less than a week to get the person registered, the 20 of 22 casinos that also have people in their system forbidding them to enter might take longer Ohorilko said.

“Sometimes it takes anywhere from seven to 30 days for those properties to get their own databases in sync with the removal,” he said.

Lottery Uses Different Tactic

While putting people with problem gambling on a list prohibiting them from patronizing casinos, preventing them from purchasing lottery tickets is more challenging.

“Obviously we can’t ban folks from going to a convenience store or from a grocery store because they have other business that they need to be doing in those locations,” Iowa Lottery spokesperson Mary Neubauer said in an interview with Radio Iowa. “So the way we came at the motivation to play was to have folks who sign our self-exclusion agreement to ban themselves from lottery offices across the state.”

They might be able to purchase tickets but if they won any amount of money that required them turning the ticket into to be redeemed would not be possible.

“What we’re all trying to do is give someone who is trying to deal with the issue of compulsive gambling more tools that they can use to try to make a healthy recovery from the difficulty it has caused in their life,” she said.

Self-Exclusion Limits

One infamous gambler on a similar restriction list was Resorts World Manila gunman Jessie Javier Carlos. He was put on an exclusion list at the request of his wife because of his gambling addiction, but that didn’t stop the 42-year-old from entering the capital city casino with an automatic rifle. He shot wildly in the air, forcing panicked patrons and workers to seek refuge on the second floor. He set fire to several gaming tables and people were trapped. Smoke inhalation killed 37.

Security has since been improved at Philippine casinos so that a comparable tragedy can hopefully be prevented. Part of the measures includes better training of security to spot people that are on lists prohibiting them from entering gambling venues.