TRENTON, N.J. — Manager Pete Rose of the Cincinnati Reds should be given a chance at treatment for compulsive gambling instead of being banned from baseball if he is found to have bet on the sport, a New Jersey counselor for compulsive gamblers said Saturday.
Arnold Wexler, executive director of the Council on Compulsive Gambling in New Jersey, said Rose should be treated no differently than players who have been found to be addicted to drugs or alcohol.
"When a baseball player admits he has an alcohol or drug dependency, that player is placed in a rehabilitation program and then given an opportunity to return to his profession," Wexler said. "At the same time, Major League Baseball is actually discouraging players and managers with gambling addictions from seeking treatment, because when these people admit they have bet on baseball games, it appears that they will be suspended from baseball."
Hamilton County, Ohio, Common Pleas Judge Norbert Nadel is scheduled to rule today whether Baseball Commissioner Bart Giamatti can hold a Monday hearing into the gambling charges against Rose.
The investigator hired by Giamatti to probe the allegations has testified that he has evidence Rose placed wagers on Red games--a violation of baseball rules that could lead to a lifetime suspension from the game.
Wexler said he has not spoken with the game's all-time hit leader about his gambling habits.
"I can't say Pete Rose is a compulsive gambler. Only Pete Rose can say that," Wexler said. "But from what I have read, and if, in fact, it's true, it sure sounds like he is a compulsive gambler who needs help. What 'normal' person would bet several thousand dollars a day, even if he could afford it?"
Rose should be allowed to stay with the team if "he seeks rehabilitation and begins recovery" if he is a compulsive gambler, Wexler said.
Wexler claims he knows two other baseball players who had gambling problems. The two, whom he refused to identify by name, were an outfielder who made it to the major leagues with a Midwestern team and was sent back to the minors because of his problem and a triple-A pitcher who never made it to the majors.
"Major League Baseball has had its head in the sand for years when it comes to the gambling problem," he said.