Resources available for those seeking help for gambling

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Indiana is home to 13 casinos on Lake Michigan and the Ohio River, and that number also means there are a lot of resources available for people who want help for gambling.

Chuck Bovis stopped gambling 14 years ago and is now the director of Problem Gambling Outreach of Indiana. His mission is to help build awareness about the addiction and to guide people in the right direction when they’re ready for that next step.

An option he considered a long time ago with a group of people was to do a self-ban from going to the casinos.

“I think people do adhere to it, but there are those that don’t adhere to it and they go into the casinos regardless,” said Bovis.

The Voluntary Exclusion Program is overlooked by the Indiana Gaming Commission and allows people to exclude from all Indiana casinos for one year, five years, or for life.

“I know quite a few people that have done it. I myself have done it. It’s been about eight years since I’ve done that,” said Bovis. “I have not had the need to go into a casino.”

V.E.P. has more than 5,000 active members across the country. 24-Hour News 8 did some digging and found out that about 37 percent of that number are people from Indiana.

According to the Indiana Gaming Commission, in order to be added to the list, you need to fill out an application in person at the downtown office. It could also be done at a casino or with an approved treatment provider.

Once you’re on the list, it’s your responsibility to honor that commitment. Bovis thinks it’s a good idea, but not a long term solution.

“I don’t think there’s any way they could really prevent anybody from coming in if they were to do some retina recognitions or things like that if they could probably find people and kick them out immediately,” said Bovis.

The IGC admits the program isn’t perfect by any means, but believes this is just one of the many resources to help kick the habit.

Other resources are also available, like counseling offered through the state and the 12 Steps Recovery Program.

“The 12 Steps Program saved my life and it allowed me to reach out to others with similar problems. Maybe I could help by sharing my experience, strength, and hope with them,” said Bovis. “It can be accomplished one day at a time.”

The Indiana Gaming Commission office said they started implementing audio and video recording when you apply for the program. This started about two years ago to ensure there’s not a lot of he said/she said when someone wants to be removed from the list.

When someone chooses not to honor the exclusion, casinos will not have a way to tell unless that person tries to cash their winning. Their identification will be run through the list and if there’s a match, the casino will keep the money, which ends up in the state’s general fund.

For more information about Problem Gambling Outreach of Indiana, click here or you can call the hotline number at 888-697-7670.

For more information about the Voluntary Exclusion Program, click here.