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Missouri Eases Problem Gambling Restrictions

Most states across the US are going through an extended gambling expansion phase over the past couple of years that has caused increased focus on problem gambling awareness, treatment, and prevention. In Missouri, the Gaming Commission has decided to ease the safeguards that are protecting gambling addicts.

The Missouri Gaming Commission has voted unanimously to do away with a lifetime self-imposed gambling ban. Up until now, gamblers have been able to add themselves to a self-exclusion program that keeps them from gambling in state casinos for their entire lives. The state monitors the list and enforces the bans.

In changing the rules, the Commission pointed to the idea that limiting the ban to five years would encourage gamblers to sign up for the protection. The lifetime ban, according to Chairman James Mathewson, scares potential self-exclusion candidates away, and also keeps out gamblers who may feel they just need some short term help with their gambling.

Dozens of states have adopted the self-exclusion programs, most of which do not have a lifetime ban. The five year ban gives gamblers an opportunity to change their lifestyles, and leaves open the door for the gamblers to return to casual betting once the ban ends.

Mathewson also pointed to the fact that many gamblers sign up for the program because they have fallen on hard economic times. With the five year ban, the gamblers would be permitted to return to the casinos if their financial situation improved.

The program will now allow gamblers to sign up for the self-exclusion list, and then fill out a one page questionnaire to remove themselves from the list. Despite the form having to be turned in to the commission, the gamblers do not need the approval of the oversight committee to remove themselves from the list.

Casino gambling has reached an all-time high in the US since the economic recession of 2008. States have turned to casino resorts as a way to help counter the recession, and many have been successful in their efforts. Other states, such as Florida, Colorado, New Jersey, and West Virginia, had previously authorized casinos, but have loosened limits on hours of operation and wagering limits.

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