Nevada Sees First Graduates of Its Gambling Treatment Court Program

The first-ever graduation ceremony for participants of the Gambling Treatment Diversion Court (GTDC) in Nevada took place last week.

A Diversion Court Program Helps Gamblers Who Turned to Crime

Created in 2018, the GTDC enabled eligible individuals convicted of crimes committed because of or as a result of problem gambling to participate in a comprehensive treatment program. The program is supervised by the court and aims at helping individuals with problem gambling.

To join the program, people who have been convicted of a crime related to problem gambling undergo an examination by a qualified mental health professional. With that in mind, suspects who have committed a crime against a child, a violent crime or a sexual offense cannot participate in the program.

The treatment program lasts between 12 to 36 months. During that time, the individuals participate in counseling on problem gambling. Moreover, they may be required to complete mental health, substance abuse counseling as well as drug and alcohol testing.

Although the treatment costs are covered by insurance or state grant funds, the participants are required to pay a $1,500 administrative fee. Additionally, the participants must agree to restitution as a condition of the treatment. Currently, the program has only 11 participants, which is significantly lower than other diversionary programs such as ones for mental health or substance abuse.

Despite the Pandemic, Participants in the Program Succeeded

In a statement released by the Eighth Judicial District GDTC last week, Judge Linda Marie Bell commended the first graduates of the program. She outlined that the participants achieved great success despite the difficulties brought by the pandemic. Moreover, Bell stressed that the program “is great cause for hope for the many individuals in our community who struggle with problem gambling.”

I commend our first graduates of the Gambling Treatment Diversion Court.

Judge Linda Marie Bell

According to a report released by the Las Vegas Review-Journal, three people graduated from the program last week. Two of them attended in person for the ceremony.

Although currently, the GTDC program is one of a kind for the US, other states are considering similar programs. A new bill was introduced this summer in New Jersey, which aims at helping problem gamblers who turned to crime. Introduced by Assemblyman Ralph Caputo, the bill follows the steps of Nevada, which has already found a way to fight against that issue. The bill proposed the creation of three locations around the state which will help non-violent lawbreakers who suffer from problem gambling. Similar to the GTDC program, eligible lawbreakers would undergo counseling and treatment in collaboration with the court.

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