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Cheryl Moss

Nevada Gambling Court Judge

Cheryl Moss

Cheryl Moss is a family court judge in Las Vegas. She was elected in the 2000. In 2001, with the help of the Nevada Council on Problem Gambling, she was the first judge in Nevada to institute problem gambling assessments in child custody and divorce cases. Last year, Moss finally got permission to establish a gambling court, so that those charged with crimes linked to their gambling addictions could get help from the court to control their addictions. She spoke to GGB Publisher Roger Gros in her courtroom in Las Vegas in November.

GGB: Where did the idea for a gambling court come from?

Cheryl Moss: I met now-retired Senior Judge Mark Farrell from New York—as is the case with most of the people I’ve met in the gaming world—through my mom, Dr. Rena Nora. My late mother was a psychiatrist at the VA Medical Center in New Jersey. She would go around to these conferences and introduce me to people, and I was just the young kid that was carrying her briefcase and tagging along at these conferences, so she introduced me to Judge Farrell, and Judge Farrell had the very, very first gambling court in the United States, and so, that’s how I learned about gambling court.

Is this similar to a drug court, then?

It is a certified specialty court, and I want to thank Chief Judge Linda Bell for giving me the opportunity. I had been asking for it for 10 years since the statute was amended, that we would have a gambling diversion program.

Chief Judge Bell assigned me a specialty court coordinator who also works with our other family court judge, Frank Sullivan, to handle drug court cases in the juvenile division. This guy is on top of things. He will prep the cases and staff the court, and we’ve got a couple of cases that are going to be heard in a few weeks.

What are the criteria for getting assigned to the gambling court?

Well, It goes back to the statute. Nevada Revised Statute, Chapter 458A says that if a crime is committed in furtherance of the gambling, it is up to a criminal division judge to make that determination for eligibility, subject to certain exceptions of course, but if it is found that it is in furtherance of the gambling and they have a gambling problem, then they are eligible for diversion and then, they would be referred to my court for treatment and monitoring, and ensuring that they are able to successfully complete the drug court program or the gambling court program.

How do you determine whether the person has actually stopped gambling? There’s nothing like drug testing for gambling.

Well, as they say, in the world of drug addiction and recovery, you’re never a recovered gambler or a drug addict; you’re always recovering, so it’s the same kind of concept, like the AA program and the NA program, and the GA, Gamblers Anonymous, program. But yes, it’s difficult to tell; we don’t know unless something actually happens. In my family court cases, it’s not known unless somebody accuses the other side.

I know you are just starting this court, but what do you think a typical penalty will be for somebody in this situation?

It’s a very detailed process. It’s called “sanctions”—if there is any kind of lapse or relapse, we start off to make sure that they are already in treatment, or we’ve assigned them a treatment provider. The Nevada Council on Problem Gambling will help provide a list of people that are certified problem gambling counselors that can do the treatment, and then we will have status checks every two weeks to ensure that they’re doing that. Our goal is to encourage and be supportive.