CLEVELAND -- A Northeast Ohio man is the first in the state to officially ban himself from the Horseshoe Casino.
Justin Gale, 52, of Mayfield Heights, is not allowed in any of the four casinos in the state.
When Gale, a compulsive gambler, learned the casino was coming to Cleveland, he made the choice to register himself on the "voluntary exclusion" list with the Ohio Casino Control Commission.
Modeled after other states, the voluntary exclusion list is aimed to help people with gambling problems avoid temptation.
Upwards of fifteen states in the U.S. have similar programs.
People can only submit themselves, not another person. They must apply through the commission.
If approved, a photo ID and personal information are taken, to identify a prohibited person who may arrive at the casino.
A person can elect to ban himself or herself for one, or five years -- or for life, as Gale did.
For Gale, an office professional, overcoming addiction has been a long battle that strained relationships and finances.
After 35 years gambling, he made the choice to seek help and now sees a counselor on a regular basis. His family and friends are his support system.
Gale says he does not see the casino ban as an end-all solution to his addiction, but rather a wall between himself and the problem.
For information on how to apply for the Voluntary Exclusion program, call the Ohio Problem Gambling Hotline at 1-800-589-9966, or check out the link on this web page for more information on identifying and treating a gambling problem.