New Jersey Seeks to Help Underage Gamblers, Not Punish Them
New Jersey is currently hard on individuals caught at gambling facilities who are not of the legal age of 21. This has been mostly seen as delinquency and crime, but the state is evolving in its understanding and a bill, S 1599, is seeking to offer a different way to addressing the issue.
According to the bill’s sponsors, including Sen. James Beach, Sen. Shirley Turner, and co-sponsor Sen. Patrick Diegnan, underage individuals who are gambling may be showing signs of a deeper problem.
Therefore, the bill wants to strike down the $1,000 fines issued to underage individuals caught gambling and make them optional. This way, judges who are presiding over cases involving underage gamblers would have the option to not just slap the individuals with fines and send them on their way, but also consider whether an individual is actually suffering from pathological gambling behavior.
Instead of a fine, an underage individual may now be asked to roll in a treatment facility and seek help for what could be the symptoms of problem gambling. This court-mandated attendance of such facilities or courses could have long-term, meaningful, and impactful consequences on young adults who may be struggling with their gambling habits.
Forget Punishment, Seek Ways to Help Gamblers Who Need It
The idea is to move away from purely punitive legislation that fails to factor in the complex dynamics of gambling, and how younger individuals, exposed to it constantly, could be tempted to tip into unhealthy behaviors.
This is not the first similar bill to have been pitched with A 420 also making a similar attempt, although it focuses purely on people who are of the legal gambling age and who may need help.
This bill seems to be making little progress at the moment, but it should be seen as another pivotal piece of legislation that brings problem gambling into focus and raises awareness of the fact that certain challenges exist in addressing the issue.
S 1599 presently only aspires to cover land-based offenses and does make no mention of the online use of gambling apps by underage individuals. Including this in the bill’s language may be redundant, however, as the state’s operators use advanced geofencing software that effectively prohibits underage gambling no matter how complicated the attempt.
Sports gambling and responsible play have been a matter of increasing significance in the United States, especially in the wake of students in Iowa who are suspected of having breached NCAA betting rules.