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Ed Claycamp was disheartened a few weeks ago when he received a letter from an area casino telling him his self-imposed ban from the facility no longer would be honored.
The problem gambler was clean for years. He wanted to stay that way. And he felt the letter was an invitation to come back to the Kickapoo Tribe's Golden Eagle Casino, located near Horton.
"Fat chance I'll ever darken their doors," Claycamp said.
The three tribal-owned casinos in the area maintained a list of people who, in an effort to control their addiction, banned themselves from the gaming floors. If someone on the list tried to enter the premises, they were arrested for trespassing.
Essentially, it was a no-trespassing list.
But the Golden Eagle Casino said after 14 years with that policy, and hundreds of people now self-banning, the list became unmanageable.
"It's a very, very difficult business to identify people," said general manager Steve Dole.
He said the letter wasn't a "welcome back," as Claycamp felt, but rather offered problem gamblers other options for dealing with their addiction. He said providing addicts avenues for seeking help was more effective than maintaining the list.
Dole said other casinos in the area also had trouble handling their growing list.
The Sac & Fox Casino north of Holton didn't return calls seeking its policy. But the Prairie Band Casino & Resort near Mayetta still maintains a list of self-banned gamblers and said it never considered doing away with the list.
"Absolutely not," said general manager Dave Albrecht. "It's not our intention to ruin anyone's life because of an addiction. We want to help them. We don't want to hurt them."
Claycamp's family used to joke around the holidays that it was going to be a "Harrah's holiday." Diamond tennis bracelets and gas grills were normal gifts from the casino for his business. Those gifts often ended up under the Christmas tree. The 64-year-old was such a high roller that he could get hotel rooms for himself and any guest at any time.
"They treated me like a god when I was there," he said of the Prairie Band casino, formerly operated by Harrah's. "Anything I wanted, I got."
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