First Group of Gambling Processing Court Program Graduates


The first participants of Nevada’s Gambling Treatment Diversion Court graduated on Tuesday, three years after the program launched.

District Court Chief Justice Linda Bell said the program is the only active justice system in the country designed to help problem gamblers convicted of serious felonies and misdemeanors. Created in 2018, the court offers alternatives to traditional prison sentences for people convicted of offenses directly related to gambling addiction.

“I think in any type of addiction there is a lot of shame surrounding the addictive behavior, and gambling is no exception to that,” Bell said. “It’s very helpful for (the participants) to be able to have that stability.”

With only 11 participants, the gambling program is smaller than other district court diversion systems, which include programs for addiction and mental health issues. Three people graduated from the gaming diversion court, two of whom attended a graduation ceremony on Tuesday morning, Bell said.

A mental health professional must determine that participants are considered problem gamblers in order for them to be eligible for the program, Bell said. It can take up to three years to complete the program, and participants are required to undergo drug tests, attend counseling sessions, and appear in court frequently.

Participants must also submit financial records and keep the court informed of restitution payments to help them develop a “healthy relationship with money,” Bell said.

While the processing fee is covered by insurance and state grants, participants must also pay a fee of $ 1,500 in addition to restitution payments, according to a district court statement.

Participants are not allowed to enter casinos unless they are given special permission. They are also encouraged to find jobs that take them away from gambling.

Bell said she wanted participants to live lives where they don’t “always run away from their secrets and live with the shame and guilt that come with the inability to control their behavior.”

The system was created in response to a state law amended in 2009 that allows an accused to enroll in a gambling diversion treatment program instead of going to jail, if a judge finds he is eligible.

The Nevada Counsel on Problem Gambling estimates that up to six percent of adults in Nevada could have a gambling problem, according to a district court statement.

“Gambling is a big part of our state and problem gambling is a concern here, maybe more than anywhere else,” Bell said.

Contact Katelyn Newberg at [email protected] or 702-383-0240. To follow @k_newberg on Twitter.

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