New Jersey Lawmakers Offer Solution To Problem Gambling Issues

Written By Nicholaus Garcia on March 23, 2023
New Jersey Responsible Gambling Diversion Courts

A New Jersey bill to institute a gambling addiction diversion court is making its way through Trenton. 

The bill, A420, sponsored by Assemblyman Ralph Caputo, has been referred to the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

Caputo’s bill would create gambling diversion courts in three vicinages: north, central and south. If passed by the New Jersey legislature and signed by Gov. Phil Murphy, the gambling addiction courts would operate similarly to drug and recovery courts.

New Jersey lawmakers know responsible gambling treatment is lacking

Caputo, a former casino executive, said he read an op-ed by retired Judge Cheryl Moss and admitted that although lawmakers knew responsible gambling treatment was lacking, lawmakers “did not have any solution.” Speaking with PlayNJ Moss stated:

“As someone … experienced in the gaming business, I completely understand what happens to people. I’m not really tuned into what’s going on now because I’m not in it. But I could just imagine how this [problem] has expanded because of the opportunities for people to gamble. So it’s a sad situation when somebody gets that rope that there’s no way out.”

Per language in the bill, the Administrative Office of the Courts would oversee the program. However, Andrea Johnson, liaison for the AOCsaid while the courts support the “spirit” of the bill, the AOC suggests that gambling addicts be directed to existing diversion programs.

Gambling diversion courts are not a new concept

Gambling addiction courts are not a new concept. Moss, a New Jersey native, created the nation’s first gambling treatment court in Las Vegas and Clark County, where she served on Nevada’s Eighth Judicial District Court.

Advocates view A420 as necessary, given the growing number of people displaying problematic behaviors. In New Jersey, online gaming generates nearly as much monthly revenue as Atlantic City casinos, thus making gambling easier and more accessible. 

Speaking with lawmakers, Moss said more and more people are in danger of developing some gambling-related problems. “The amount of gaming [in New Jersey] is just astronomical, and I think it is definitely a social problem.”

The gambling diversion court has successfully graduated six individuals in Nevada, with six others currently enrolled. Moss went on to say those suffering from gambling-related disorders deserve compassion.

“These types of people don’t belong in incarceration,” the retired judge said. “What they do need is treatment, they need help to rehabilitate so they don’t go back to a life of crime. If they go to prison, they don’t get help for their gambling problem. They’ll get out and they’ll just do the same thing. And it’ll be a revolving door.”

Luckily, New Jersey’s legislative session runs a full calendar year. The legislative session began on Jan. 1, 2023, and ends on Dec. 31, 2023. Unfortunately, bills that fail in 2023 do not carry over to 2024, meaning, should A420 fail, lawmakers would have to restart the process all over again. 

Photo by PlayUSA
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Nicholaus Garcia

Nick Garcia is a senior reporter for PlayUSA. Garcia provides analysis and in-depth coverage of the gambling industry with a key focus on online casinos, sports betting and financial markets. Garcia has been covering the US gambling market since 2017. He attended Texas Tech University as an undergrad and received a Master of Arts in Journalism from Columbia College Chicago.

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