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PA Gaming Control Board BANS Eight Patrons: Unattended Children at Casinos

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The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, also referred to as the PGCB, has fined Stadium Casino RE, LLC a total of $10,000 relating to two incidents in which patrons gained access to restricted areas. Stadium Casino RE, LLC is responsible for operating the popular Live! Casino Philadelphia.

The PGCB has also placed eight adults on its involuntary exclusion list for leaving a combined total of 16 children unattended in order to gamble. All eight of these patrons will be banned from every casino in the state of Pennsylvania.

PA Gaming Control Board Bans Eight and Fines Casino

Patrons Gain Access to Restricted Casino Areas

The PGCB has fined Stadium Casino RE, LLC, $10,000 for two separate instances of a patron gaining access to restricted areas of Live! Casino Philadelphia. In the first incident, a woman gained access to multiple areas of the "back of the house" and stole items from casino employees.

Live! Casino Philadelphia Live! Casino Philadelphia

In the second incident, three patrons entered an unsecured restricted area in order to gain access to the casino floor after they were already denied by security. The fine of $10,000 was settled upon as a part of a consent agreement between the Office of Enforcement Counsel and Stadium Casino RE, LLC. Negotiations between the two parties had been ongoing, and it should be noted that this is the first consent agreement between the Office of Enforcement Counsel and this operator.

Although this fine is fairly small, the casino operator is highly incentivized to increase its security measures in order to prevent situations like this in the future. Employees at Live! Casino Philadelphia shouldn't have to worry about their belongings being stolen while they are on the clock. Patrons should never be able to easily access restricted areas, and we hope that this situation is promptly addressed and rectified.

Leaving Children Unattended to Gamble an Ongoing Issue in PA

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Since January 2021, nearly 700 children have been left unattended at a Pennsylvania casino while a parent gambles. For some reason, Pennsylvania seems to have a significant issue when it comes to this reckless practice. Clearly, there are multiple safety concerns when it comes to children being left alone at casinos, and we would hope that the vast majority of parents would choose to ensure their children are safe as a priority, far above the need or desire to gamble.

Perhaps some of the reason for this pervasive issue is that the PGCB has done an excellent job of identifying unattended children quickly and often. Perhaps this issue is commonplace in other areas and Pennsylvania's track record is simply shining a light on something that occurs all around the world. It is a bit hard to know since other states like Nevada and New Jersey rarely find unattended children at their casinos, although it does happen occasionally.

Back in November of 2021, Valley Forge Casino presented a six-part plan in an effort to increase detection and thwart parents who were leaving their children alone to gamble. Infrared cameras were installed in an effort to assist in identifying children who were left in cars.

Valley Forge Casino Valley Forge Casino outside of Philadelphia

Another recent change occurred when Wind Creek Casino in Bethlehem presented its own plan to address this issue back in May of this year. Its plan included additional signage, increased staff training, and increased patrols by security. Prior to this announcement, 147 incidents occurred at Wind Creek alone involving 268 unattended children. Wind Creek assured the PGCB that it would spend $4 million on patrols specifically to look for children.

Enhanced Procedures Not Totally Effective

Unfortunately, it doesn't appear that these measures have had the full desired impact as people have continued to leave children unattended at Pennsylvania casinos at an alarming rate. The PGCB warns that adults are prohibited from leaving minors in the garage, parking lot, hotel, or any other venue at a casino as it creates a potentially unsafe environment for the children.

The good news is that it appears as though these measures are helping to identify children quickly when they are left unattended. The longest any child remained unattended to was 57 minutes, so at least we can be glad that the children were all safe and that they were located quickly.

Eight People Added to Exclusion List

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On Oct. 19, 2022, the PGCB added eight patrons to its involuntary exclusion list. All eight patrons were caught gambling with children unattended on the premises. Fortunately, in each of the circumstances, the children were found within one hour. It should also be noted that all of the children involved in these incidents were 13 years of age or younger.

The eight patrons who were added to the involuntary exclusion list are now banned from all Pennsylvania casinos statewide. The details of each incident are included below:

  • A male patron left 5 children unattended in a vehicle in the garage at Harrah's Philadelphia Casino and Racetrack. The children, aged 3 - 11, remained unattended for 25 minutes while the patron played table games. This violation led to an arrest, and the patron plead guilty to child endangerment. He was sentenced to two years of probation.
  • A female patron left a 12-year-old child unattended in a vehicle in the garage at Harrah's Philadelphia Casino and Racetrack. The child was unattended for 57 minutes while the patron played slot machines.
  • A female patron left a 9-year-old child unattended in her vehicle in the parking garage at Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course. The child remained unattended for 30 minutes while the patron played slot machines.
  • A male patron left a 2-year-old child unattended in his vehicle at the Presque Isle Downs & Casino parking lot. The child remained unattended for 32 minutes while the patron placed wagers in the sportsbook.
  • A male patron left a 12-year-old child unattended in his vehicle at the Valley Forge Casino parking lot. The child stayed unattended for 8 minutes while the patron placed bets in the sportsbook.
  • A male patron left three children unattended in his vehicle in the parking lot at the Wind Creek Casino. The three children, ages 10, 12, and 13, remained unattended for 12 minutes while the patron watched others play table games.
  • A male patron left an 8-year-old child unattended in his taxi vehicle in the bus parking area at the Rivers Casino Pittsburgh. The child remained unattended for 20 minutes while the patron placed bets in the sportsbook.
  • A male patron left three children unattended in his vehicle in the parking garage at the Rivers Casino Pittsburgh. The three children, aged 5, 6, and 9, were alone and unattended for 21 minutes.

The PGCB has issued a warning to its citizens urging them to stop bringing their children to casinos. The PGCB has made it clear that leaving children unattended to gamble is a crime and violators will be punished to the fullest extent of the law.

Why is This Happening?

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We can only speculate as to why Pennsylvania has significantly higher occurrences when it comes to unattended children at casinos. It seems obvious to us that online gambling is widely available and that people don't have any need to bring their children to a casino. There are more than 20 licensed in-state online gaming operators in Pennsylvania, so it is easy to gamble online whether it be slots, sports betting, or table games.

Fortunately, no children have died in Pennsylvania as a result of this dangerous practice although there have been deaths in other areas of the US. In 1998, a 3-year-old died in Louisiana after the child's nanny played video poker for five hours. It is our sincere hope that news stories like these will encourage parents to avoid leaving children unattended at casinos and create public awareness about this ongoing situation.

Safe Options to Gamble Online

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There are plenty of safe gambling options online, so you can play right from the comfort of your own home. Pennsylvania's residents have access to a number of in-state online gambling options including sites like Fanduel, DraftKings, and PokerStars. There are also trustworthy offshore operators that boast unique promotions and exciting games of chance. Feel free to peruse this detailed guide to playing online poker in PA if you'd like to learn more about trusted offshore operators.

For folks who reside in a state other than Pennsylvania, please feel free to explore this extensive guide covering the best online poker sites for US players. If you prefer to play casino games like slots, table games, or video poker, then you may wish to check out this exhaustive page that details the best online casinos in the US.