Studies estimate that up to 6% of Nevada adults may be problem gamblers and further link problem gambling as a cause of domestic issues, check fraud, theft and other crimes. A diversion program is a critical step to ensure that problem gamblers get treatment they so desperately need and helps to lessen the impact of problem gambling on citizens, businesses and communities in Nevada.
This diversion program for problem gamblers addresses the issues underlying their criminal conduct. By dealing with the underlying problem head-on, the Legislature sought to prevent recidivism and assist in returning the individual to a productive role in society, thereby fostering restitution.
Motion to Assign the Defendant For Treatment of Problem Gambling Pursuant to NRS 458A.200 through NRS 458A.260
- Nevada has drug and alcohol courts, DUI courts, Veterans court but no specialty court devoted to gambling. However, in 2009, the Nevada State Legislature established a criminal diversion program for problem gamblers. This diversion program serves public policy by treating a person’s gambling addiction to prevent recidivism and assist them in returning as productive citizens.
- NRS 458A.200 authorizes a court to assign a person to an individualized treatment program so long as the program is administered by a qualified mental health professional and meet the various criteria set forth in the statute.
- The Court must conduct a hearing on the motion for assignment to a program for the treatment of problem gambling as required by NRS 458A.220(1)
- A person exploring this option should have an assessment and diagnostic interview to determine whether they meet the criteria for pathological gambling as set forth in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association (DSMIV) 312.31
- It is helpful to begin intensive out-patient treatment and attend Gamblers Anonymous meetings to show compliance with treatment and get an opinion that that the prognosis is good if you continue to actively engage in a recovery program
Eligibility for Treatment and Conditions for the Diversionary Program
- Eligibility requires that the problem gambler committed the crime in furtherance or as a result of problem gambling and has not been convicted of a felony or gross misdemeanor against a child, sex offense or domestic violence etc.
- The Court can order treatment under the supervision of a qualified mental health professional for not less than 1 year and not more than 3 years as long as the person agrees to pay restitution as a condition upon the election of treatment
- In addition, the Court can impose any conditions upon the election of treatment that may be imposed as conditions of probation.
- The court may require such progress reports on the treatment of the person as it deems necessary.
See Problem Gambling and the Law an Information and Resource Guide, www.nevadacouncil.org
You Will Suffer No Conviction if Successful
- Defer sentencing until such time, if any, as sentencing is authorized pursuant to NRS 458A.240
- If the problem gambler is successful, the Court will set aside the conviction.
Problem Gambling is a Progressive Disorder
- The more serious condition is known as pathological gambling, a progressive disorder, in which the individual is unable to control his/her gambling much like those addicted to alcohol are unable to control their drinking. See National Council on Problem Gambling, http://www.ncpgambling.org.
- Pathological gambling is a diagnosable and treatable mental health disorder, recognized by the American Psychiatric Association since 1980. See American Psychiatric Association, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (3d ed. 1980)
- Problem gamblers is a progressive disorder in which an individual has psychological preoccupation and urge to gamble. This results in excessive gambling disrupts the gambler’s personal life, family relationships and ability for employment. See National Council on Problem Gambling, http://www.ncpgambling.org. The principal features of problem gambling are emotional dependence on gambling, loss of control and interference with normal functioning.
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