Pennsylvania’s Penn National Fined for Poker Tourney Regulatory Misstep

Pennsylvania casino entity Mountainview Thoroughbred Racing Association, LLC, the parent company of the Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course, has been fined $20,000 by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PCBG) to resolve paperwork mix-ups that technically left at least four 2019 poker tournament offerings unapproved by state regulators. The $20,000 penalty was the result of a consent agreement between the casino and regulators in which Penn National readily admitted to the paperwork snafus.

The mix-ups, partly due to staff turnover, were self-reported by Hollywood Casino’s Director of Compliance, Alex Hvizda, following discovery of the omissions, in which the casino failed to send advance notification of several events held at the popular Grantvlle, PA, room, located not far from Harrisburg.

The omissions included some recurring events, so the total number of technically unapproved offerings was more like 100, rather than the official “four” as declared by the state in announcement of the $20,000 fine. That fine is about as light a wrist-slapping as one could expect, and though not specified as such by the PGCB, it’s likely designed just to cover the PGCB’s investigative and office expenses for dealing with the minor matter.

Hollywood Casino offers small and mid-sized poker tourneys on virtually a daily basis. The events for which the mix-ups occurred ran throughout much of 2019 before the omissions were uncovered, seemingly in mid-September.

The events, as described by Hvizda to Penn Live, included these:

  • A “Labor Day Classic” poker tournament with a special $250 buy-in;
  • Recurring weeknight poker tournaments that ran with a $120 entry fee, instead of an $80 entry that Hollywood had initially filed for (and been approved) to run. According to the Penn Live update, “Penn National had a $120 entry approved for weekends, but $80 for weeknights.” The misfigured weeknight tourneys, seemingly offered on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, ran 95 times at the unapproved $120 entry price between February 5 and September 12.

Despite the fine and technical wrongdoing, the higher buy-in for the weeknight events has already been approved by the GCB, which also allowed the tourneys to continue to run during the interim.

In a brief statement disclosing the fine, the PGCB declared, “The fine was the result of a Board approval at its public meeting of a consent agreement between the PGCB’s Office of Enforcement Counsel and Mountainview Thoroughbred Racing Association, LLC.

“The PA Gaming Act mandates that table games staffing plans, tournament schedules, dealer training programs and schematics of gaming guides, table layouts, signage and equipment be submitted to the PGCB for approval by the Executive Director. That was not done for four poker tournaments held in 2019 at Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course.”

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