Parx Casino is in hot water with The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) after a ruling in an incident involving underage gambling. The self-reported violation occurred when an 18-year-old male spent less than half an hour playing slot machines on the live casino floor.
The PGCB has assessed a fine against Parx Casino in its meeting this month after an incident in September of 2020. The self-reported incident occurred when an underage patron managed to get inside Parx Casino’s live operations and play slot machines for less than half an hour.
To its credit, Parx was the one who brought the incident to the attention of the PGCB. It self-reported the violation after an internal investigation revealed the incident that occurred during the height of pandemic restrictions in operation last year.
The PGCB announced the $10,000 fine on October 13 for the Sept 2020 incident in a press release (PA only), but it was reported widely, including at PennBets.com.
COVID Restrictions Play Role in Violation
The incident in question happened during the height of COVID-19 restrictions in place in 2020 to halt the spread of the global pandemic. The restrictions in place at the time had security staff at the door of Parx Casino checking temperatures and handing out masks to incoming patrons.
This extra security activity created some blind spots, and an 18-year-old male was able to slip past guards while they were busy with other patrons. That gave him access to the casino floor, and according to the press release, he spent “less than half an hour” playing slot machines inside the casino.
Incredibly, it looked as though he may have gotten away with it, were it not for other bad decisions made by the youth. According to PennBets.com, the violation was only discovered later after an investigation prompted by activity after the violation had already occurred.
As the underage player was leaving the casino parking lot, for some reason he decided to throw fireworks out the window of his car. That prompted a deeper investigation by police assigned to the casino that revealed the identity and age of the driver of the vehicle.
Further investigation of the casino video revealed that, in addition to the fireworks, the violator had spent some time inside the casino playing the slots. It is worth noting here that Pennsylvania law prohibits underage patrons from even being on the gaming floor, never mind playing the games.
Once the investigation identified the violation, Parx self-reported the incident to the PGCB, leading to the recent fine. However, PGCB also noted the incident raised other questions, most notably whether other patrons, of legal age or not, might have slipped past security in a similar way. Even in the case of a legal patron, slipping past the COVID screening at the entrance may well have put other patrons at risk.
Parx officials assured the PGCB that no other similar incidents occurred, but given that the current violation was only discovered as a result of other infractions, it remains an open question how accurate that assurance is.
Unattended Children Also a Problem
The PGCB also pointed to another problem regarding underaged people in its recent meeting, though this one did not involve Parx in specific incidents. The Board also reported on three recent incidents of adults leaving children unattended in vehicles while taking advantage of betting opportunities at various properties.
Specifically, the violations pointed to Rivers Pittsburgh and Valley Forge Casino Resort, both of whom had at least one instance of unattended kids. There is a mandatory forced exclusion imposed on violators for this infraction and since 2011, 129 people have been placed on the Involuntary Exclusion for this type of infraction.
Rivers was the site of two of the unattended children infractions, while Valley Forge had to deal with one. In total, three people were forced into Involuntary Exclusion, one of them for leaving four children unattended so she could watch a friend play craps.
In the other incidents, one parent left 8 and 5-year-old boys by themselves in a vehicle while he went inside to place a sports bet and play craps, while another left an 11-year-old in a vehicle while he could redeem a sportsbook ticket inside the casino.
There was some praise for Rivers in the violations, however. PGCB Board member Sean Logan, who has been critical of casinos, noted that in the case of the 11-year-old left unattended, “The system worked.” The unattended child was spotted within two minutes of the infraction, and parent Douglas Corbett Jr. was tracked down inside the casino while a security officer remained with the child to ensure safety.
That got Corbett a spot on the Involuntary Exclusion list, along with the two other violators. The PGCB warns that, in addition to the risk of Involuntary Exclusion, leaving children unattended in vehicles for any reason is dangerous for general safety reasons.
The $10,000 fine for Parx is included in a consent agreement between the agency’s Office of Enforcement Counsel and the license holder, then approved by the Board. The PGCB will meet next on November 10.