From the daily archives: Friday, August 13, 2010

Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. today unveiled an innovative, web-based computer program for all of California’s licensed cardrooms that is intended to help addicted gamblers break “their spiral of debt and addiction” by allowing them to voluntarily exclude themselves from gambling establishments.

“This system serves as a safety net for gambling addicts fighting to end their spiral of debt and addiction,” Brown said. “These are people who have chosen to help themselves, and we’ll assist them in keeping their pledges not to gamble.”

An estimated one million Californians suffer from problem or pathological gambling, and more than 1,000 of them have signed up for the Attorney General’s Self Exclusion Program, which allows problem gamblers to voluntarily exclude themselves from licensed cardrooms. So far, the program applies only to card rooms and not to the California lottery, tribal casinos or horse racing, but if the cardroom program is successful, it can be expanded.

To join the Self Exclusion Program, a problem gambler fills out a form, has it notarized, attaches a photograph and chooses to be excluded for one year, five years or his or her lifetime. The Self Exclusion form can be found at http://ag.ca.gov/gambling/exclusion_self.php

Of the 1,009 gamblers voluntarily on the list, 285 are for one-year terms, 196 are on for five- years, and 528 signed up for lifetime terms. Options are offered because some patrons are trying to learn to gamble responsibly while others are pathological or compulsive gamblers.

The program started in 2007 with a paper list of excluded gamblers mailed from the Attorney General’s office to cardrooms throughout the state. Starting this summer, the profiles and photographs of banned patrons are going live onto a database accessible to the 90 licensed cardrooms in the state.

Cardroom security, cashiers and surveillance personnel can run a patron’s name, driver’s license number or zip code in the database to see if he or she is banned from gambling.

If the profile and picture match, the banned patron is escorted out of the building, and any winnings are confiscated. All of the confiscated winnings are used for Problem Gambling Prevention training and treatment services including the production of self-help workbooks for problem gamblers (available in 18 languages); free gambling toolkits; a book that includes warning signs, causes and stages of problem gambling; and financial management tips.

The exclusion database also includes patrons who have been convicted of a felony or have violated gambling laws in any state.

The California Council on Problem Gambling has provided data on the 5,009 calls received on its crisis hotline (1-800-GAMBLER) in 2009:

– 78.5% of callers were gamblers, 7.5% were their spouses and 14% were others including family members, therapists or employers.
– The callers’ average personal debt was $29, 972.
– The average amount of money the callers spent gambling was $28,647.
– 53% of the callers said they financed their gambling with credit cards.
– 38% said their credit cards were maxed out.

The Attorney General’s website lists inpatient and outpatient treatment centers and accredited counselors specializing in addiction treatment. See http://ag.ca.gov/gambling/responsible.php

 

SANDAG is soliciting applications for $4.5 million in funds available through three separate grant programs that will support various transportation initiatives serving seniors, the disabled, low-income individuals, and reverse commuters.

The three grant programs include two funded by the federal government and administered by SANDAG – Job Access and Reverse Commute (JARC) and New Freedom. The third program – Senior Transportation Mini Grant — is funded by the local TransNet half-cent sales tax. (All three programs require various levels of matching funds.)

“Most of these funds will be aimed toward new or expanding programs,” SANDAG Executive Director Gary Gallegos said. “Our intentions are to distribute a large number of relatively small grants to encourage a variety of services to help fill the gaps in our transportation system.”

Grants will be awarded to programs that meet the priorities outlined in the SANDAG Coordinated Plan, which identifies mobility needs in the county from a passenger perspective and focuses on transportation for seniors, persons with disabilities, reverse-commute trips, and employment-related transportation for persons with limited means.

Applications are due no later than Nov. 12, 2010. SANDAG will host an application workshop in September – the exact date and location will be posted on the SANDAG Web site, along with the Coordinated Plan, grant application forms, and related materials at http://www.sandag.org/CoordinatedPlan.

The $2 million in Senior Transportation Mini Grant funds will go to innovative and flexible programs that support the transportation needs of people aged 60 and older. Examples of eligible projects include:

  • Senior shuttle services
  • Volunteer driver programs
  • Brokerage of multi-jurisdictional transportation services
  • Mobility/travel training
  • Support of accessible taxis
  • Rideshare and vanpool programs

The $1.6 million in JARC grants will fund employment-related transportation projects serving low-income individuals and reverse commuters. Examples of projects that may be funded through JARC include:

  • Late-night and weekend fixed-route service
  • Employment shuttles
  • Guaranteed ride home service
  • Vanpools, ridesharing, and carpooling activities
  • Regional mobility management
  • Bicycling programs and car sharing
  • Intelligent transportation, information, and dispatch systems

The $940,000 in New Freedom grants will be awarded to applicants who can provide new or expanded transportation services for individuals with disabilities that go beyond the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Examples of eligible projects include:

  • Purchasing accessible vehicles
  • Administering voucher programs
  • Administering volunteer driver programs
  • Regional mobility management
  • Travel training for individual users
  • Expansion of paratransit service beyond ADA required boundary
  • Providing door-to-door or door-through-door shuttle service

About SANDAG

The San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) is the San Diego region’s primary public planning, transportation, and research agency, providing the public forum for regional policy decisions about growth, transportation planning and construction, environmental management, housing, open space, energy, public safety, and binational topics. SANDAG is governed by a Board of Directors composed of mayors, council members, and supervisors from each of the region’s 18 cities and the county government.

 
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