Harrah’s and Golden Nugget Casinos Fined for New Jersey Gaming Law Oversights
Harrah’s Resort Casino and the Golden Nugget Casino were fined a total of $66,000 by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement this week. The bulk of the fines were given to Harrah’s for several infractions. The biggest fine was given for allowing underage gambling and drinking.
The Golden Nugget’s fine totaled $6,000. Its infractions was minor in comparison: the casino did not include the 1-800-GAMBLER message in an advertisement it had outdoors for its online gambling business. By state law, any outdoor ads about licensed Internet gambling sites should include the hotline for problem gambling. The Golden Nugget Casino’s management did not respond to requests for comment on the incident. Neither did Harrah’s Casino, though their incidents took place over 2 years ago.
Harrah’s Underage Gambling Cases
Harrah’s was assessed fines for allowing three separate underage patrons drink and place bets on their gaming floor. These three people had no connection to one another and, between them, were involved in 5 separate violations.
A 19 year old woman was allowed to play nearly 200 hands in a session which lasted 9 hours. An 18 year old man was allowed to drink at a casino bar at Harrah’s on two different occasions. In a separate case, a 20 year old played the slot machines on two different occasions.
19 Year Old Case – Underage Drinking, Roulette
The most serious involved a 19 year old woman who was allowed to gamble and drink over a 9 hour period. During that time, she made 195 bets at the roulette table. During her roulette session, she consumed 8 alcoholic drinks. Such a drinking session would be considered dangerous for someone of age, but to serve an underage patron so many drinks was considered particularly troublesome.
20 Year Old Case – Underage Blackjack, Drinking
In the case of the twenty year old gambler, a young man identified as “AT” entered the casino and went to the security podium, where he asked for a wrist band to indicate his age. The identification he offered was expired. When he was denied a wrist band, the man went to the blackjack table and began gambling anyway.
Ten minutes later, security removed the young man from the gaming area and placed him in a temporary holding area. There, the man presented his true ID, which was a New York state driver’s license. The license showed him to be 20 years old and the license had the words “Under 21” stamped across it.
The guard misread the license, handed it back to “AT”, and allowed the man to return to the table. Once back at the blackjack table, he played 55 hands before staff challenged him again. At this point, the man was removed from the casino, but the damage was done.
18 Year Old Case – Underage Drinking, Keno
In a separate incident, an 18 year old identified as “LC” played over a 9-hour period. During that time, “LC” interacted with 5 gaming supervisors and 12 different dealers. He was also given 8 bottles of beer by 4 different servers. Only when “LC” was found sleeping or passed-out in a Keno parlor did the casino check his identification. The young man’s ID did not belong to him, so paramedics were called, and he was taken to the nearby hospital.
Gaming Infractions in Land Casinos
While such incidents should be taken seriously, each case shows that the casino personnel have policies to eliminate underage gaming. Most of these cases show a breakdown of that system, including a guard who simply overlooked an obvious piece of information. How a gambler was able to pass out in the keno room for a significant amount of time is anyone’s idea. Keno is a lottery-style game which requires little participation, so the staff might not pay as close attention to the goings-on in that room as they would around the poker or blackjack tables.
These incidents do occur occasionally. The Sands Bethlehem outside Philadelphia has been fined 5 times in the past few years, including several cases of underage gaming. Like the Golden Nugget case, the fines often stem from oversights on the part of staff or management. Most big casinos have a thousand or more employees. Not all of these employees are highly motivated, so such infractions are likely to continue occurring over the years. In the rare cases when the casino discusses such fines (like the Sands case), spokesmen point out all the times the casino screens out underage gamblers without getting credit. One also has to wonder how often an underage player completes a session and walks out of the casino without ever being noticed.
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