The Maryland General Assembly Passes Bill to Fine Underage Casino Gamblers

The Baltimore Sun reports that Maryland state legislators passed a bill on April 4 which would fine gamblers under 21 caught playing in a land-based casino. For the bill to become official, the bill will have to be signed by Governor Martin O’Malley. The bill is endorsed by Maryland casino operators, due to the deterrent factor provided by the fines and penalties for those who break the law. Prior to the bill’s passage, underage gamblers had no discouragement besides being thrown out of the casino, while the casino itself faced its own stiff fines.

The General Assembly passed the legislation on Thursday. Previously, the Maryland House of Representatives passed the bill unanimously, showing how far sentiment about gambling has shifted in the past couple of years. Just two years ago, the House failed to pass the same bill.

Katherine Klausmeier Sponsored the Bill

Senator Katherine Klausmeier, a Democrat from Baltimore County, sponsored the bill in the General Assembly. Now that both houses of the Maryland legislature have agree to the proposal, the bill goes before the governor. The signing by Martin O’Malley is considered to be all-but-assured, given the unanimous vote in the House.

Strong Support among Casinos

Casinos gave the bill their full support. Up until now, Maryland casinos have been required to pay fines when underage gamblers have succeeded using a fake identification card or in sneaking past security (and gotten caught later). In the past, expelling the teen gamblers was the only recourse operations had. Now, the onus is placed on underage gamblers, who face stiff fines if they’re found in violation of the law. The new law helps casinos enforce regulations, because some of the perpetrators will think twice before trying to get into the casino.

List of Offenses and Fines

Possible offenses including minors who gamble or minors who enter the gambling area. The first offense costs an underage participant $100. The second offense would be a $500 fine. The third violation would be a $1,000 fine and compulsory enrollment in a compulsive gambling treatment program.

In these cases, the District Court’s chief judge would set a schedule of repayment fines. These citations would work quite similarly to how traffic tickets now work, so a person ticketed could pay their fine at the courthouse, or choose to go before the judge to appeal the ticket.

Maryland Casinos Target Asian American Gamblers

The casinos in Maryland are not turning everyone away. Maryland Live Casino is targeting the local ethnic Asians as a growing demographic. When live tables games were introduced in March 2012, the Asian clientele increased by large proportions. Like in Macau, the players were attracted to the live baccarat tables. Since the spring of 2012, Maryland Live has become a top performing table game area on the East Coast.

Lawrence Chang of the Maryland Center for Foreign Investment attributes the influx of players to cultural traditions. Chang said, “Gambling is really big in Asian countries. For Chinese and Vietnamese in particular, I think it’s a way of testing their luck, their superstitions.”

Americans who visit Macau talk about the habits of Asian gamblers at the baccarat tables in that country. Many of these players hang back and watch the game unfold when they first reach the table. Because of the concept of “chi” or energy flow in Asian thought, the concept of flow permeates their gaming habits, too. These gamblers want to get a sense of how the fortunes of the game are flowing, before they start to wager. To a math-based Western gambler, this might seem foolhardy, but it’s the way the game is played in Asia.

That’s why baccarat is so popular with Asian players: they see it as a game of pure luck. That allows them to tests their fortune and seek the rise and fall of the game.

Maryland Live Asian Entertainment

Maryland Live at Arundel Mills has embraced the Asian culture, trying to lure more gamblers to their location. They have restaurants which serve wok-fried noodles and dim sum. Hong Kong musical acts like Johnny Ip Chun Tong have performed at the venue, too. A Lunar New Year celebration was held, with red lion dancers out on the casino floor. Meanwhile, the casino floor has been stocked with traditional casino table games like Pai Gow, Pai Gow Poker, and Sic Bo.

About Cliff Spiller

Cliff Spiller has been an online writer for 14 years. He worked for Small World Marketing for a decade, where he covered topics like gaming, sports, movies, and how-to guides. Since 2014, he has blogged about US and international gambling news on BestOnlineCasinos.com, USPokerSites.com, and LegalUSPokerSites.com

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