Gambler banned from casinos loses bid to play again

March 20, 2008 2:39:51 PM PDT
A man who has been trying to get off New Jersey's no-gambling list almost ever since he put himself on it is out of luck, an appeals court has ruled. A lawyer for the man, identified only as S.D., said his client acted on impulse after a big loss and didn't know casinos outside the state would see that he voluntarily gave himself a lifetime ban from gambling in Atlantic City.

He asked the state Casino Control Commission to remove his name from the list, but it refused, and a three-judge state appeals court panel rejected his appeal in a decision released Thursday.

The judges said the commission had "ample basis in fact, law, and public policy" to deny S.D.'s request.

"As the commission recognized, S.D. has no fundamental right to gamble, constitutionally or statutorily," the court wrote.

The man's lawyer, Gerard Quinn, said he was disappointed but declined to comment further, saying he had not had a chance to discuss the ruling with his client.

Linda Kassekert, chairwoman of the commission, hailed the decision.

"Clearly, the value of the self-exclusion program would have been compromised if someone who voluntarily signed up for lifetime exclusion was able to remove himself just because he wasn't told other casinos elsewhere might exclude him as well."

According to Quinn, S.D. lives within driving distance of Atlantic City. After a losing a pile of money at an Atlantic City casino in July 2004, he drove directly to the casino commission headquarters and put his name on the self-exclusion list.

Within an hour of putting himself on the list, however, S.D. was on the phone trying to have himself taken off. The commission said no.

Before long, he started getting letters from casinos outside Atlantic City telling him he could no longer play there, either.

His lawyers argued that S.D. did not know when he signed up that casinos outside New Jersey might use it, too. Since 2004, the exclusion form has been changed to make it clear that out-of-state casinos can also use the list.

Currently 663 people are on the list -- an all-time high. About half are banned for life; the rest have chosen shorter terms.

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