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Problem Gambling: 'Self-Exclusion' Sites in Maine Expanded
02/14/2014   Reported By: Jay Field

As of this month, problem gamblers in Maine have more locations where they can voluntarily ban themselves from the state's two casinos. Under what's called self-exclusion, individuals struggling with gambling agree to not enter casinos for one to five years -- and in some cases, for the rest of their lives. Research shows self-exclusion can help reduce problem gaming. As Jay Field reports, a new pilot program will now allow gamblers to exlude themselves at community and behavioral health centers.

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Self-Exclusion Gambling Sites Expand in Maine
Originally Aired: 2/14/2014 5:30 PM

Until this month, a problem gambler had to actually be at a casino to ban themselves from coming back. John Gibboni explains how it works. He's the compliance officer at Hollywood Casino in Bangor. "Well basically, you would come in and you would mention, 'Hey, I have a gambling problem. Is there anyone I could talk to?'" he says.

Gibboni says casino staff first direct the person to pamphlets that talk about problem gambling and treatment options, including self-exclusion. Gibboni says gamblers who actually chose to self-exclude meet with casino security, "to talk about the process more, have them fill out the paperwork and explain to them the self-exclusion process. They would tell us how long they wanted to exclude for. ThThey would fill out the paper work and be on their way."

But making problem gamblers go to a casino to ban themselves from said casino seems somewhat counterintuitive. "Somebody who may have a problem with gambling may not want to return to a casino," says Christine Theriault, prevention manager at the Maine Office of Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services.

Theriault is overseeing a new pilot program that will allow problem gamblers to register to self-exluded in 10 alternative locations across the state. "By going to these neutral locations, they'll not only be able to get the paperwork completed, but they will also get information and resources on how to find hel,p either in their local community or across the state," she says.

The $45,000 pilot program is a partnership between the Theriault's office, the Maine Gambling Control Board and the Oxford and Hollywood Casinos. Locations to self-exclude include Bangor Health and Community Services, the Houlton Band of Maliseets Health and Wellness Center, Kennebec Behavioral Health in Skowhegan and Augusta and Portland City Hall.

Approximately 85 problem gamblers have banned themselves from the Oxford Casino since the facility opened in 2012. Roughly 270 people, meantime, are currently on Hollywood Casino's self-exclusion list.


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