Nebraska implements voluntary exclusion program to deter drug addicts

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LINCOLN, Neb. (WOWT) – As the state prepares to expand casino gaming, the Nebraska Racing and Gaming Commission provides people with gambling addictions with additional resources.

The state announced Wednesday that it would provide a mechanism for anyone to essentially ban themselves from Nebraska gambling establishments. The voluntary self-exclusion form is available on the commission’s website.

According to policies posted on the commission’s website, any approved application means that person would not be permitted to place bets at Nebraska betting establishments – or even be onsite. The application will require information, including several means of contact, a passport-style photo of that person, and a statement explaining why they fit the description of a “problem gambler.”

They must also specify how long they wish to remain on the list.

“We recognize the excitement and anticipation for the expansion of gaming in Nebraska,” NRG executive director Tom Sage said in a press release Wednesday. “Establishing mechanisms to mitigate the effects of harmful problem gambling is essential to regulating a professional gambling industry. We encourage everyone to learn the signs of problem gambling and use the voluntary self-exclusion program if you or a loved one has an addiction.

Nearly two years after voters approved the gambling expansion, the state is set to issue its first license this week. If that happens, the slots could be running as early as Saturday in Lincoln.

Warhorse’s operation in Lincoln is set to go live with 400 slot machines once the casino license for gambling is cleared. If the gaming commission allows it, at Friday’s monthly meeting, the interim casino could be ready for customers this weekend.

Warhorse’s Omaha operation, right now riders park on Q Streetis still 10 months away from casino title as the 30 year old building had to be gutted first.

Also on Friday’s agenda: the creation of a problem gambling committee.

Experts told 6 News that the self-reporting system isn’t perfect, but a piece of paper works better than many think.

“I have my paperwork in front of me to do,” said Mike Sciandra, who has considered himself a compulsive gambler for years.

He’s also on self-ban lists with casinos in Iowa and Missouri and says that for him it’s a deterrent. If he showed up to play in those states, he couldn’t win any money and could be charged with trespassing.

“I know there are a lot of people who lead double lives like me and struggle,” Sciandra said.

Not only has he battled addiction, but he also teaches others how to get help as an outreach coordinator for Choices Treatment Center in Lincoln.

“At the end of the day, players will find ways to play,” Sciandra said. “The most important thing is that I want – I call it the 90% rule: 90% of people can gamble responsibly without consequences; but for those 10% who can’t control themselves and need limit their game, I just want them to have the resources to do that.

DO YOU NEED HELP? The commission also provides gambling addiction resources on its website and has a 24-hour helpline available at 1-833-BETOVER (238-6837).

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