OLYMPIA -- Gambling addicts often don't receive as much help as those addicted to alcohol or drugs, State Rep. Shelley Kloba says. But it doesn't mean the addiction is any less serious.
A bill signed by Gov. Jay Inslee late last month looks to bring help to gambling addicts. House Bill 1302, sponsored by Kloba, allows the Washington State Gambling Commission and the lottery commission to create a voluntary self-exclusion program for problem gamblers.
The new law allows problem gamblers to hand in a form, notifying casinos they have a problem with gambling. The form will be put on a statewide "No-play list" barring problem gamblers from card rooms and the lottery.
Those registered on the list will also be required to forfeit any winnings. Any money garnered would go to help people with a gambling problem, Kloba says.
Tribal casinos are sovereign and aren't required to be included in the program, but could opt in, Kloba says.
Kloba sees the program as a way to help people that need it.
"We're in a state where we have billions of dollars that we bring in through gambling," Kloba said. "We need to address the repercussions and offer help."
About one to two percent of people who gamble could be considered problem gamblers, Kloba said. Those who have trouble need the tools help them out.
"For some people gambling spells financial ruin," Kloba said. "We need to try to help."