Iowa Senate approves bill softening gambling ban (AP) March 19, 2013 at 4:22 pm DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – The Iowa Senate approved legislation Tuesday that would let gambling addicts decide how long they want to be banned from casinos. Currently, gambling addicts can submit information to be entered into a database that casinos monitor. Any winnings belonging to people in the database are forfeit as a way of discouraging problem gambling. Membership in the database is permanent. The bill approved by the Senate would give gamblers the option of a lifetime or a five-year ban from the state’s casinos and the Iowa lottery. Sen. Tom Courtney, D-Burlington, said he proposed the bill after a constituent said he believed he’d overcome his addiction and wanted to try gambling again. “This gives an individual a couple of extra bites at the apple,” Courtney said. Lawmakers approved the measure 46-2 with bipartisan support. It now heads to the House. Iowa and Michigan are the only states left in the nation that issue permanent lifetime bans from casinos. Sen. Jack Hatch, D-Des Moines, voted against softening the ban. “An addiction is an addiction, you never get over it,” he said The state’s Iowa Gambling Treatment Program estimates 3 percent of Iowa residents have a gambling addiction. Some can get over the problem, said Mark Vander Linden, the program’s coordinator. “(Some) may have gambled responsibility within their limits for many years and then something happens in their life like your husband dies or you lose your job … For those people it’s finding that balance; then something stabilizes in your life and (lifetime exclusion) is no longer necessary,” he said. Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.