The state of Louisiana has put in place a gambling hotline that receives an estimated 700 calls a year. These calls are normally made by individuals who feel they have a gambling problem.
Louisiana’s Self-Exclusion Program allows gambling addicts to voluntarily ban themselves from casinos or other gambling institutions in the state.
Any Louisianan who feels he or she needs to watch his or her gambling addiction can join the state’s self-exclusion program. According to experts, this program is an effective way for someone to deal with his or her addiction problem.
Sgt. James Anderson with the Louisiana State Police confirmed the program is completely free. Louisiana residents can visit the state police’s Lake Charles office or casino properties. They can set up the program at the casino if there is an officer there.
Although it has been available for about a decade, there hasn’t been much mention of this program. Therefore, it has been difficult for researchers to measure its progress.
Other states that have these programs have made the information available to researchers. Missouri, which initiated the first ban in the country, sees both men and woman equally enroll in its program. The majority of those are in their early 40s.
The signup process
To sign up for the program, all you need to do is visit the Department of Public Safety, a Game Field Office or State Police location. You present an officer with any valid ID. This could include a passport, driver’s license or military ID. Officials will take your photograph and any other necessary information. Then, they will distribute to the information to all the casinos and gaming locations across the state.
“You won’t be able to visit a casino in the state of Louisiana,” Anderson said. In case registered individuals find themselves in a casino, authorities can arrest them for trespassing. “This is a good thing. We want to try and help people.” Anderson said.
The program runs for five years
According to Anderson, once an individual signs up, he or she remains in the database for at least five years.
Anderson explains that there a couple of steps a person needs to achieve as the person reaches the five-year mark. The first step involves visiting someone who deals with mental health issues and specializes in addictive disorders. The mental health professional must give approval before the state can remove the person from the program. Once this happens, the person needs to petition the Louisiana State Gambling Control Board and ask it to lift the self-exclusion ban.
He added that the state police are not out to arrest people with a gambling addiction problem. He understands that they have come because they realize that they have a problem. And, since they have taken a proactive step to solve the issue, the state police are willing to help them achieve their objectives.
The program isn’t foolproof
“This program is not perfect,” Anderson confessed. “It doesn’t apply to video poker outlets or Indian casinos.” He explained that the Native American casinos are in sovereign nations. Therefore, it’s up to the tribe to determine what policies of exclusion it will implement at its casino. Anderson still has hope in the program. It’s a step in the right direction to address an incessant problem affecting the residents of Louisiana.
The program got some recognition recently. A news outlet featured a story about a high-ranking state government official who is participating in the program. Authorities feel it will positively highlight the program and will show other affected people how they can use it as a beneficial tool toward recovery.
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