A new era of play and sports betting rolls in Pennsylvania. With that comes increased tax revenues and more resources for Gambling addiction and prevention. As the state strives to promote responsible gambling online and in casinos, there aren’t many options for people who have been convicted of gambling related crimes.

A solution comes from Nevada, where the first gambling treatment diversion court (GTDC) was introduced in 2018. The rigorous program is a alternative to prison for the accused and gives them a chance to devote themselves to recovery.

Nevada’s first president, retired Judge Cheryl Moss, is considering expansion to neighboring states such as New Jersey. Will Pennsylvania lawmakers considering bringing it to Keystone State?

What is a gambling diversion court?

Specialized diversion courts already exist in the United States to deal with issues such as substance abuse offenses, mental health cases, and juvenile delinquency. The Gambling Treatment Diversion Court was modeled on these initiatives, where offenders must meet certain criteria to enter.

A person committing a felony, and the crime was “in sight” of a gambling addiction, Moss explained. The crime must be a crime, except for violent crimes, crimes against children, domestic violence, sex crimes, and whether the person has already committed two or more crimes and the nature of those felony convictions .

Usually the ideal participant is undergoing treatment pending the outcome of his case. If eligible, they undergo another round of treatment along with random drug tests, support groups, and regular meetings with their judge to focus on restitution and other areas of need. Moss described the participants whom she considered “extremely docile, dedicated to their recovery and [leading] healthy lives.

Do the gaming courts work?

The Gambling Treatment Diversion Tribunal is young and processing can last up to three years. So there is not yet a lot of hard data on the viability of the tribunal. Because the GTDC is inspired by other specialized tribunals already established across the country, there are reason to believe it can be successful.

There are already several Clark County Court “graduates” in Nevada, and judges continue to recommend people for court. Although Moss no longer works for the court, she said she knew 11 participants who are currently enrolled. Two more hope to graduate in 2022.

Will PA have a diversion court?

The foam is already working with lawyers in Philadelphia bring the idea to the judges of the Supreme Court of the Palestinian Authority, one of which she says is already aware of and supports it.

“While the judiciary of the Palestinian Authority, in particular the Supreme Court of the Palestinian Authority, is very supportive and knowledgeable about specialized courts and promotes ways of providing people with aid, treatment and save the state of Pennsylvania money, then the chances of success increase, ”she said.

Still, the court took years to take off in Nevada. The idea dates back to 2009 and took so long to get started due to a “lack of awareness”. Will gambling addicted Pennsylvanians have to wait that long for this opportunity in their state?

Not likely, says Moss. Nevada judges are willing to share resources and work with Pennsylvania lawmakers to establish a tribunal instead of waiting for legislation to pass, which can take significantly longer. New Jersey and Pennsylvania will also be able to use Nevada’s first land as a model in the same way they used the specialty land as a base.

Challenges such as staff funding and training It will probably take time, but another decade seems unlikely.

How Will a Gambling Treatment Diversion Court Benefit Pennsylvania?

The most obvious benefit of all of this is the money. It takes money to house inmates, and a diversion court keeps people out of the prison system. Pennsylvania is much larger than Las Vegas, so the savings could run into the millions each year.

The court too prevents repeat offenders. Participants who have graduated from the program are less likely to commit crimes in the future through court training and processing.

Moss commented:

“A person who has just been thrown in jail will not receive any gambling treatment because such programs do not exist in US, state and federal prisons. When they do come out, they might not know they needed treatment for gambling, and there’s a good chance they’ll go back to criminal court. ” Sensitization is another great bonus. Moss hopes that a GTDC can support prevention programs in schools and for athletes. Family members of those who are addicted to gambling also avoid other consequences when the breadwinner of their family remains out of prison.

“GTDC is a beacon of hope for them when they realize they want help,” Moss said.

Remember to play responsibly

A diversion court can save lives, but it’s no excuse to ignore responsible gambling guidelines. Here are some available resources:

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