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Fil-Am Nevada judge hopes PH adopts gambling treatment courts

Bev Llorente | TFC News Las Vegas, Nevada

Posted at Oct 25 2021 06:20 PM | Updated as of Oct 26 2021 04:45 PM

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A year after the Las Vegas Strip was shut down by the Covid-19 pandemic, the glitzy lights of casinos have roared back to life with record breaking earnings.

In July alone, they grossed $1.36 billion, as tourists from around the world flocked to the gambling capital of the world. But for many who play games of chance, gambling can turn into a problematic addiction.

The National Council on Problem Gambling says that 15 percent of Americans gamble at least once per week, with Nevada having the highest prevalence of problem gambling in the country.

Retired Fil-Am judge Cheryl Moss
Retired Fil-Am judge Cheryl Moss says whether it's in the Philippines or the US, gambling addiction is a public concern.

Retired family court Fil-Am judge Cheryl Moss established and presided in the first Gambling Treatment Diversion Court in Nevada. It's a specialty court that offers a second chance for offenders whose charges stem from gambling.

"There's a huge explosion of gaming and with that, we need to make sure that there is proper prevention advocacy and education about responsible gambling," Moss argued. "But if there are those that are truly afflicted and they end up in court, then that's where I come in and educate on how the state can get gambling courts or some type of treatment diversion program in their states. It would save the state's money. Instead of housing them in prison, where they're not gonna get any treatment, it would also rehabilitate them to become productive citizens again."

Moss believes rehabilitation, not incarceration, is the solution to gambling problems. She also noted gambling is "an addiction that is associated with stigma and shame. A lot of them don't want to admit that they have a problem. They don't know they have a problem. But they already spent all of their savings and they're gonna end up homeless. Where are they gonna go? Or some of them are being chased by their bookies so their lives could be threatened."

Moss wants to bring gambling treatment courts to the Philippines. She stressed whether it's in the Philippines or in the United States, gambling addiction is a public concern.

"We are not anti-gaming. We are for responsible gambling," Moss clarified. "We are also for prevention and education because it's an entertainment industry but there's that 1 to 2 percent that could get hooked on gambling... Gambling does not discriminate. It could be a casino worker, lawyer, nurse, [or] construction worker."

Moss hopes that whoever will be elected Philippine president in the 2022 polls will consider this type of gambling treatment in the country. "They need to address the problem before it gets worse because what they do, if you are a gambling addict, you might turn to crime. Crime rates are gonna go up. Because you are gonna steal money to fuel gambling addiction. So it's not about the money in the mind of the gambler, it's the need for action."

New York was the first US state that set up a gambling treatment court. Moss says New Jersey is on its way to becoming the third.