Prairie Meadows Casino in Altoona.

The Iowa House and Senate have voted to modify the program that lets gambling addicts sign onto a list that prevents them from entering an Iowa casino.

“Iowa’s program only offers a permanent lifetime ban, which can scare people away from taking this important first step towards treatment,” said Senator Roby Smith of Davenport.

The bill would give problem gamblers the option of a five-year ban from the casinos and it could be renewed every five years. Smith says counselors tell him many problem gamblers have recently been divorced, are dealing with the recent death of a loved one or the loss of a job.

“This bill supports our goal of helping susceptible Iowans when they need it the most,” Smith says.

In 2013, Governor Branstad vetoed a similar bill, saying a gambling addiction lasts a lifetime and the voluntary lifetime exclusion from gambling facilities is the appropriate step.

The five-year casino exclusion option got the approval of all but two senators. It cleared the House last week on a 75-20 vote.