Oklahoma Casinos Ban 11,000 Problem Gamblers

By McCarton Ackerman 02/14/12

Many are self-banned, and placed on a list of people subject to stringent restrictions.

The doors are shut to 11,000 people in
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Oklahoma casinos are taking a stand against problem gambling, and 11,000 compulsive gamblers are currently banned from casinos and gaming centers throughout the state. Just under half of these individuals are self-banned—meaning they've signed an exclusion form which bars them from entering a casino from anywhere from one year to permanently—while the rest were spotted by casino employees as displaying signs of compulsive gambling. Gaming compacts between the state and Indian nations require the tribes to keep a list of the names of banned individuals, as well as posting notices in gaming facilities that list the signs of problem gambling. According to Wiley Harwell, executive director of the Oklahoma Association for Problem and Compulsive Gambling, if any of these people return and win a jackpot of $1,200 or more, their names are checked on a list and their winnings forfeited as a donation either to his organization or to Cherokee Nation behavioral health programs. Banned individuals who enter gaming centers also face possible criminal trespassing charges. Oklahoma is currently the fourth-ranked state in gaming revenue, with $3.1 billion plus another $442 million in related hospitality revenue in 2009. There are 30 chapters of Gamblers Anonymous in the state.

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.