Nebraska implements voluntary exclusion program to deter gambling addicts

Verified forms will mean that person is banned — at their request — from gaming establishments, possibly for life.
Here in Nebraska, nearly two years after voters approved expanding gambling, the state is poised to issue its first license this week.
Published: Sep. 21, 2022 at 3:26 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (WOWT) - As the state prepares to expand casino gambling, the Nebraska Racing and Gaming Commission is offering those with gaming addictions additional resources.

The state on Wednesday announced it will provide a mechanism for anyone to essentially ban themselves from Nebraska gaming establishments. The form for voluntary self-exclusion is available on the commission’s website.

According to the policies posted on the commission’s website, any application that’s approved means that person would not be eligible to place bets at Nebraska betting establishments — or even be on-premises. The application will require information including several means of contact, a passport-style photo of that person, and a statement about why they fit the description of a “problem gambler.”

They must also specify how long they would like to remain on the list.

“We recognize the excitement and anticipation for expanded gaming in Nebraska,” NRG Executive Director Tom Sage said in a news release Wednesday. “Having mechanisms in place to mitigate the effects of harmful problem gaming is key to regulating a professional gaming industry. We encourage everyone to learn the signs of problem gambling and use the voluntary self-exclusion program if you or a loved one has an addiction.”

Nearly two years after voters approved expanding gambling, the state is poised to issue its first license this week. If that happens, slot machines could be operating as early as Saturday in Lincoln.

Warhorse’s operation in Lincoln is ready to go with 400 slot machines once the casino license for games of chance gets the green light. If the gaming commission authorizes it, during Friday’s monthly meeting, the temporary casino could be ready for customers this weekend.

Warhorse’s Omaha operation, at the current Horsemen’s Park on Q Street, is still 10 months away from the casino title because the 30-year-old building needed to be gutted first.

Also on Friday’s agenda: creating a committee on problem gambling.

Experts told 6 News that the self-reporting system isn’t perfect, but that a piece of paper works better than many think it would.

“I have my paperwork right here in front of me to do,” said Mike Sciandra, who has considered himself a problem gambler for years.

He’s also on self-ban lists with Iowa and Missouri casinos and says that for him, it’s a deterrent. If he showed up to gamble in those states, he couldn’t win any money, and he could be charged with trespassing.

“I know there are plenty of people out there who lead double lives like I did that are struggling,” Sciandra said.

Not only has he fought addiction but he also teaches others how to get help as outreach coordinator for Choices Treatment Center in Lincoln.

“At the end of the day, gamblers will find ways to gamble,” Sciandra said. “The biggest thing is, I want — I call it the 90% rule: 90% of people can gamble responsibly without consequences; but for those 10% who can’t control themselves and need to put limits on their gambling — I just want them to have the resources in order to do that.”

DO YOU NEED HELP? The commission also provides gambling addiction resources on its website and has a 24-hour hotline available at 1-833-BETOVER (238-6837).