Sheldon Adelson

Sands Casino Bethlehem Fined for Allowing Underage Gamblers

For the second time in six months, Sands Casino Bethlehem has been fined by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) for allowing people to gamble at its casino while underage. If you are unfamiliar with this particular casino but something about the name rings a bell, yes, it is a property owned by the Las Vegas Sands Corporation, headed by everyone’s favorite online poker-hating billionaire, Sheldon Adelson.

The $85,000 fine was handed down Wednesday as the result of six separate incidents of underage gambling at the casino dating back a year:

• June 3, 2013 – 17-year old female gambled at table games (games such as blackjack, roulette, and craps) for 90 minutes after using an altered passport to make it past security.
• August 18, 2013 – 20-year old male gambled at table games and slot machines for 96 minutes.
• September 20, 2013 – 20-year old female gambled at table games and slot machines for almost two hours before being stopped by a dealer.
• October 14, 2013 – 20-year old male used an altered Brazilian passport to gamble at table games. He was caught by a security guard when he went to the well one too many times, trying re-enter after leaving.
• December 29, 2013 – 19-year old male gambled at table games (in this case, specifically craps) and drank alcohol, also called “living it up.”
• January 29, 2013 – 17-year old male used an altered ID to gamble on slot machines and drink alcohol. A cocktail waitress actually nabbed him.

Sands Casino attorney Fred Kraus told Lehigh Valley newspaper The Morning Call that though those people did, in fact, gamble while under the age of 21, they were still caught by casino employees. “In each of these incidents, after an initial mistake by a security officer, another [casino employee] noticed the person on the floor and challenged them,” Kraus said. “It was the result of the subsequent challenge that led to the discovery and the self-reporting of each incident.”

The PGCB does confirm in its press release that all six incidents were self-reported.  

In addition to this being the second fine levied by the Control Board on Sands Casino Bethlehem in the past six months, it is the fifth since 2010. The previous four fines totaled $220,000, all for running afoul of underage gambling or drinking regulations: $48,000 in 2010 (six incidents), $48,000 in 2012 (four incidents), and $56,000 and $68,000 in 2013 (ten incidents total).

It is not that underage gamblers got past security at a casino that is notable here. Stuff like this happens all the time, probably every day, at casinos around the world. It is that it happened at a Sands casino that is the entertaining part. Sheldon Adelson, the man at the helm of Sands, is online poker’s public enemy number one, willing to spend “whatever it takes” to not only stop its spread in the U.S., but have the game’s legalization reversed in Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware.

One of Sheldon Adelson’s most used rallying cries can be paraphrased as, “Won’t someone think of the children?” He either firmly believes or would have us believe that he firmly believes that brick and mortar casinos are infinitely more reliable than online security for screening out potential underage gamblers. In a recent interview with Bloomberg, he said, “I can’t tell over the internet who is underage.”

On the website for his anti-online gambling organization, the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling, it lists one of the problems with online gambling as underage gambling, stating:

It will be nearly impossible to prevent minors from gambling online. State regulatory agencies will be unable to prevent adults from allowing minors to play on their accounts. States will have little incentive to bar participation by minors living in other states, and could allow college students to gamble online by setting the minimum age at 18 years old.

But in the meantime, even though Adelson and cohorts deny that there are any technologies that exist in the year 2014 that could possibly restrict access to a site by minors, underage people are still getting into Adelson’s casinos and possibly losing their parents’ money or their college tuition. And Sands was fined only for the incidents that were detected; there were almost certainly many more people that gambled their underage without getting caught. Not to mention that some of them are drinking alcohol, as well, and we all know that teens partaking in alcohol always ends well.

Do we want people to gamble underage? Of course not. Is it a huge problem that some were able to at Sands? Of course not. These things happen. No security measure is one hundred percent reliable. But these fines that Sands has had to pay shine a light on the idiocy of Adelson’s arguments against online poker. He thinks the ability to physically see a person is the only way to make sure they are of age when he is not only clearly wrong about that, but also when his preferred method of age verification doesn’t always work.

We look forward to the next wave of fines to hit Sands in a few months.

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