Nevada is currently the only state with a specialty gambling court. The idea has proven its merits, and high-profile public figures have started calling for its implementation across the USA. Michigan is a notable example since its holistic approach to regulating gambling continues to pay dividends and can support the inclusion of a court dedicated to gambling crime.
Nevada Demonstrates the Merits of a Specialty Court
A gambling court offers multifaceted advantages. It benefits both the state and the local communities. Most cases of gambling-related crime center around theft and embezzlement, driven by a player’s inability to pay their debt.
A traditional court would put these individuals in jail, where they would be a burden to ordinary taxpayers and face difficulties receiving the help and guidance they need to deal with their addiction problems. A specialty gambling court would instead send offenders to a pretrial intervention program where they would continue to pay their taxes, stay out of jail and get the treatment and help they need to prevent relapse.
According to Judge Cheryl Moss, one of the driving people behind Nevada’s gambling court, 80% of convicts passing through the gambling court were successfully rehabilitated.
The (court) helps people become productive citizens…, get their families and children back, teaches them how to manage and make restitution, and hopefully not return to a life of crime.
Judge Cheryl Moss
Moss estimates that each successful rehabilitation story saves the state roughly $24,000. The program should also not be viewed as a get-out-of-jail-free card for convicts, as they remain under stringent surveillance and share every aspect of their lives with the authorities.
Such an Approach Would Be Suitable for Michigan
Several other states have expressed interest in implementing a specialty gambling court. Michigan Rep. Brandt Iden, who spearheaded the state’s gambling reforms, is also a strong proponent of the idea.
Michigan has drug courts, so why not a court to assist people who have an addiction to gambling or encounter financial problems due to a gambling problem?
Rep. Brandt Iden
Iden was instrumental in the success story of Michigan’s gambling reforms, which now serve as an example for many other states. The local legislation adopts a consumer-centric approach, promoting healthy competition through lower taxes and cooperation between the tribes, retail operators, and the state administration.
Despite Michigan’s success, Iden expressed regret that he had not managed to implement specialty gambling courts when he had the opportunity. There are currently no motions in Michigan to implement the required legislation, and the administration is unlikely to take any measures without external motivation. However, New Jersey appears ready to take up the mantle, as state officials are considering introducing gambling courts to the Garden State, hopefully setting a precedent for more to follow.