Destigmatizing Problem Gambling Disorder → Las Vegas Attorney Dayvid Figler

by Kirk Sanford

The Nevada Problem Gambling Diversion Court Helps Non-Violent Convicted Addicts

A former public defender and municipal judge, Dayvid Figler has been practicing law for 28 years. He passed his bar when he was just 23, and today, he’s discussing how he took an innovative approach to restitution in Nevada.

Though the state’s NRS 458Alaw was first passed in 2009, Figler was the first to implement it in 2015 when he defended a client who would have otherwise been incarcerated for 4-10 years on charges of theft and embezzlement. Diagnosed with an undeniable problem gambling disorder by a mental health professional, Figler’s client had racked up over $500,000 in debt through her inordinate use of video poker machines. 

Both the initial presiding judge and the state’s Supreme Court took the law seriously, and Figler’s resulting win led to the creation of a “brick and mortar” court with a full staff and judge. This provided a pathway for convicted addicts to recoverin a program geared towards treating their specific disorder. 

Dayvid Figler

Figler explains that while someone warehoused in prison is unable to pay back their debts in any meaningful waywhile incarcerated, those in the program are allowed to work while receiving court-supervised treatment. This is a win-win for the participants and the people to whom they owe money: convicted individuals can repay their debts while working to recover from their addictions. Thanks to her involvement in the program, Figler’s first client has already paid back tens of thousands of dollars. 

The diversion court is both practical and compassionate, working actively to destigmatize problem gambling disorder. Individuals in the program “are being recognized as people who have actual verifiable mental health disorders that need treatment, that need support systems, and who can turn [their lives] around,” says Figler. Mental health professionals, advocates for criminal justice reform, and gaming industry executives all embrace the court as a tenet of social responsibility.

Though the state is able to offset some of the court’s expenses with revenue tied to taxes from the gaming industry, many otherwise-eligible people cannot afford to get an official diagnosis of their disorder from a mental health provider. Industry operators are encouraged to show their support by giving grants to the court or underwriting programming. By funding the diversion court, they can express their support for treatment and help fellow Nevadans get the help they need.

Thanks to Judge Cheryl Moss, the Nevada Council on Problem Gambling, the partners working within the program, and Dayvid Figler, the days of stigma are nearly over for people suffering from problem gambling disorder.

“The hope is that the stigmatization of those who find themselves in this position certainly are treated a little bit more kindly and fairly,” says Figler,  “not just by the court system but really by the rest of our communities.” 

Learn more about episode guest Dayvid Figler via his website. You can also follow him on Twitter.

Listen to Dayvid’s interview by clicking here.

NOTES

●      Information on the NRS 458A Law

●      Determining eligibility for Nevada’s problem gambling diversion court

●      Information on diversion programming in Nevada

●      Mental health professionals’ preference of diversion over prison sentencing

●      How industry officials can make a financial difference today

●      The Nevada Council on Problem Gambling

Responsible Gaming Education Week

Responsible Gaming Education Week (RGEW) was created by the AGA in 1998 to increase awareness of problem gambling among gaming industry employees and customers and to promote responsible gaming nationwide.

The AGA and the entire gaming industry realize that education is essential to promoting responsible play and increasing awareness of gambling disorders, and RGEW provides gaming companies with an opportunity to expand on work they do every day educating employees and patrons about the issue.

About Sightline

Today’s modern casino gaming industry is anything but modern — it’s one of the largest cash-based industries on the planet with hundreds of billions of dollars used as the medium of exchange, resulting in unnecessary hassles, risks, and costs. Sightline is on a mission to change this — building the gaming world’s first truly cashless ecosystem with its flagship solution Play+

Named “Most Innovative Gaming Technology Product of the Year,” Play+ allows consumers a cashless and seamless, mobile commerce experience for hospitality and gaming; including, online, mobile, on-premise slots, tables games, and sports. The Play+ digital platform is embraced by integrated casino resorts, sports betting, and lottery platforms, including the largest and most well-recognized casino resort and sports betting brands. Sightline is based in Las Vegas, Nevada.

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Kirk Sanford, CEO, Sightline Payments