Sheldon Adelson’s Sands Bethlehem Casino Fined for Underage Gambling
In 2014, Las Vegas Sands Corp. CEO and monster-under-the-bed Sheldon Adelson explained to Bloomberg’s Betty Liu one of the reasons he’s on a crusade to end online gambling in the United States. “Here [his brick and mortar casino, the Venetian], we’re not supposed to allow under-aged people to gamble. How do you do that on the internet? There’s no technology that a kid can’t get around.”
Right or wrong (SPOILER: he’s wrong), apparently that non-existent technology is also a problem for his land-based casino properties, especially Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem in Pennsylvania. Sands Bethworks Gaming LLC, operator of the casino and part of Adelson’s gaming empire, has recently been fined for the umpteenth time by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) for underage gambling violations.
The three instances of people younger than the age of 21 figuring out how to gambling real money at Sands Bethlehem all took place in August and were self-reported by the casino. In a press release last week, the PGCB explained that Sands was fined $36,000 in total for permitting the three people to spend about nine hours combined on the gaming floor.
LehighValleyLive.com was able to acquire additional details of the three interlopers and how they entertained themselves this past summer:
A 20-year-old gained access Aug. 29 to the gaming floor from the bus terminal by presenting a New York Grey Cadets credential even though this is not considered a valid identification to enter a Pennsylvania casino. Manuella Disla, no hometown given, walked around the casino with her parents and gambled on one slot machine before exiting, and was then denied re-entry at the market entrance/exit. Claiming to be unaware of the legal age to enter a Pennsylvania casino, Disla had been on the gaming floor for about an hour and 50 minutes.
A 19-year-old was stopped Aug. 17, also at the market entrance, and suspected of having gained entrance earlier using someone else’s identification. Yile Zhong, no hometown given, “became increasingly agitated and aggressive towards security. Eventually, security was observed taking Mr. Zhong to the ground and detaining him.” The man had gambled at multiple tables for about two hours and 23 minutes. Zhong was permanently barred from Sands Bethlehem and cited by Pennsylvania State Police for carrying a false identification card.
Another 19-year-old gained entry Aug. 16 at the main entrance, despite using an expired identification belonging to someone else. Alexandra Tavarez, no hometown given, remained on the gaming floor for about four hours and 45 minutes before leaving, and was then denied re-entry five minutes later. She, too, was permanently barred from the Sands casino and cited by state police for carrying false ID.
Sands Bethlehem is a fairly frequent visitor to the principal’s office. The last time the casino was fined by the PGCB was in June 2014, when it was hit with an $85,000 fine for six underage gambling incidents spanning June 2013 to January 2014. The ages of the gamblers ranged from 17 to 20; two of the teenagers also imbibed alcohol on the casino floor.
Sands Casino attorney Fred Kraus tried to defend his client to the Lehigh Valley newspaper The Morning Call after the 2014 fine, saying that even though the people did gamble while underage, they were actually nabbed 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.”
That is all well and good and I am not about to call for the razing of a casino because a few teens with strong facial hair genes were able to play some slots for a while, but my schadenfreude is in full force when the casino getting hit with fines for underage gambling is owned by the same person who tries to use the mythical inability to form a blockade against minors as a reason for banning online poker.
So Sands Bethlehem was just fined $36,000 for underage gambling and $85,000 in 2014. But wait! There’s more! Since June 2010, Sheldon Adelson’ Pennsylvania casino has been slapped with a total of $341,000 for 30 underage gambling violations. That is 30 times someone younger than 21 has been caught gambling at Sands. Been caught. Who knows how many more times it has happened and the kid escaped with his winnings undetected. Or worse, lost a bunch of money and slunk home determined to return and win it all back.