LEVITTOWN - Since slots parlors arrived in Pennsylvania in November, gambling addicts haven't exactly been rushing to sign up for a state program that allows compulsive gamblers to effectively ban themselves from casinos.
People who sign up for the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board's self-exclusion program could be ejected from casinos or have their winnings forfeited. Excluded gamblers also are kept from receiving targeted mail promotions or players club perks.
But so far, only 52 people have signed up for the program, officials said.
An estimated 124,000 people in Pennsylvania, or 1 percent of the state's population, are "pathological gamblers," according to the National Council on Problem Gambling. The group estimates that 3 percent of the state's residents are "problem gamblers."
Pennsylvania's program began last year with the opening of the Philadelphia Park Casino in suburban Philadelphia and the Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs near Scranton.
It is similar to a six-year-old program in New Jersey, where the state's Casino Control Commission said there are 580 people signed up.
A New Jersey man on that list later changed his mind and submitted a bid to be allowed to gamble again; the commission rejected his bid in January.
Since Philadelphia Park opened in December, no one on the self-exclusion list has tried to gamble there, according to casino spokesman Tom Bonner.
"We code any names from the list into our database," Bonner said. "If they tried to cash a check or anything that comes up in our system, we'd know about it."
Pennsylvania could become one of the nation's largest gambling states soon, with five freestanding casinos slated to open by the end of next year.
Slots parlors are currently operating at four horseracing tracks in the state, with two more expected to open in the next eight months.