New Jersey bill to create problem gambling treatment program passes committee

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A bill in New Jersey that would see the implementation of a Gambling Treatment Court Pilot Program has passed the state’s Tourism, Gaming and Arts Committee.

Bill A420 would create the pilot program, which aims to provide treatment for people who have committed a crime as a result of or in furtherance of their gambling addiction.

Sponsored by Ralph Caputo, Daniel Benson and Anthony Verrelli, the bill states that the Gambling Treatment Court Pilot Program would be administered by the Administrative Office of the Courts and have a presence in the northern, central and southern regions of the state. 

The bill sets out a series of minimum standards for the program, which stipulate that the person assigned agrees to pay restitution for the treatment, that progress reports at intervals set by the courts are filed and that treatment should be administered by a qualified mental health professional.

All treatment must ensure that attendees receive information and encouragement to use educational, counseling and supportive services to curb their problem gambling. 

Those admitted will also receive materials to understand the medical, psychological, social, and financial implications of problem gambling as well as referral to community, health, substance abuse, religious and social service agencies for additional resources.

A statement within the bill from the sponsors reads: “This bill creates a Gambling Treatment Diversion Court Pilot Program with the purpose to treat persons determined to be affected by an addictive disorder related to gambling and who committed a crime for which they have been convicted in furtherance or as a result of the gambling. 

“The gambling court would be administered by the AOC and be established, as the AOC determines, in one northern, one central, and one southern vicinage of this State. This bill is modeled after a similar program in Nevada.”

The bill has now been referred to the Assembly Appropriations Committee after its unanimous 7-0 vote through the Tourism, Gaming and Arts Committee.