Man who banned himself from N.J. casinos wants back in

Mount Laurel, New Jersey — After a losing a pile of money at an Atlantic City casino in July 2004, a frustrated gambler drove directly to the Casino Control Commission headquarters and put his name on a list of people banned from the city’s casinos.

It’s a decision he immediately regretted _ even more so when he learned that in this case, what happens in Atlantic City does not stay in Atlantic City.

The state Casino Control Commission, which is identifying the man only by his initials, S.D., on Wednesday rejected his bid to become the first person allowed to gamble in the state again after placing himself on a list of people barred for life from casinos.

The self-exclusion list was established in 2001, intended as a way for compulsive gamblers to avoid the temptation of Atlantic City’s casinos. People who ask to be added to the list can choose to be banned for one year, five years or life.

The commission says about 525 people are on the voluntary list now _ about half for life.

The list is not available to the public, but casino owners use it to bar those listed from entering casinos they own outside New Jersey. In an industry dominated by a handful of casino owners, there’s plenty of sharing.

S.D. is not a compulsive gambler, one of his lawyers said _ but he was merely impulsive the day he signed onto the list.

„He lost some money that day at one of his casinos,“ said lawyer Gerard Quinn, who would not say where his client lives, except that it’s within driving distance of Atlantic City. „He had some other stresses in his life. He impulsively went and signed up. It took a few minutes.“

He chose the lifetime ban.

Within an hour of putting himself on the list, Quinn said, his client was on the phone trying to have himself taken off. The commission said no.

And the news got worse, Quinn said, as S.D. started getting letters from casinos outside Atlantic City telling him he could no longer play there, either. That pretty much ruled out family vacations to Las Vegas.

Quinn and attorney Lloyd Levenson on Wednesday asked the Casino Control Commission to take their client off the list, arguing that he did not know when he signed up that casinos outside New Jersey might use it, too. Since 2004, the form for exclusion from casinos has been changed to make it clear that out-of-state casinos may use the list, too.

In a 4-0 vote, the commission rejected the effort.

„The issue before the commission was whether or not the notice was adequate,“ said Daniel Heneghan, a spokesman for the commission. „The commissioners listened to the arguments and concluded that it was.“

S.D. may appeal the ruling to a panel of judges, Quinn said.