"Problem Gamblers" Can Return to Slots2

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JEFFERSON CITY - Missouri relaxed a casino ban for problem gamblers Wednesday. Thousands of people who have voluntarily banned themselves from Missouri casinos will have a second chance at the slots starting next spring.

The Missouri Gaming Commission voted Wednesday to relax rules for the state's casino exclusion list. The list imposes a lifetime casino ban on problem gamblers who voluntarily sign up. Starting next spring, the new rule will allow people to remove themselves from the list after they have been on it for at least five years.

Barb, from Gamblers Anonymous in St. Louis, said she feels the government is endording gambling with the revision.

"Compulsive gambling is a disease and an illness, just like any other addiction... who's gonna benefit from this? The only thing I can think of are the casinos and the government," Barb said.

"There's no way to fortell what the economic impact will be... there are about 11,400 on March 20 of 2012 who have enough time on (five years) to be eligible to get off the list," Ed Grewach of the Missouri Gaming Commission said.

The Gaming Commission says there are 16,148 people on the exclusion list. Of those, 11,427 will be eligible to remove themselves beginning March 30.

Gaming Commission spokeswoman LeAnn McCarthy says Missouri was one of just three states that had a mandatory lifetime ban for their casino exclusion lists. The others are Iowa and Michigan.