$290,000 In Fines Levied By the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board
HARRISBURG, PA: The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board on Wednesday levied fines totaling $290,000 against three casinos.
The fines were the result of consent agreements between the PGCB’s Office of Enforcement Counsel and the casino license holders which were approved by the Board at its public meeting in Harrisburg.
The largest of the fines, $200,000, was levied against the Valley Forge Convention Center Partners, L.P., operator of the Valley Force Casino Resort in Montgomery County. The fine stems from the Category 3 Resort Casino’s offering of seasonal and annual Dining Club memberships through a promotion for no financial consideration or reduced financial consideration even though regulations mandate that a minimum expenditure within the resort of $10 must be made in order to gain access to the casino; failure to provide notice to the Board of that promotion; and, allowing the seasonal or yearly memberships to extend beyond the legal amount of time.
According to facts in the consent agreement, under the casino’s “Lucky Day” promotion, which ran from January 2013 to July 2013, patrons were able to purchase memberships for no consideration or reduced consideration which allowed members and a guest access to the gaming floor. This was done by having the patron utilize a $20 Valley Forge Casino Resort gift card obtained simply by signing up for free to the casino’s Player’s Club. In addition, signing up for a Player’s Club card provided the patron with an additional $20 in free slot play.
In addition, Valley Forge Casino Resort failed to provide the Board notice and the rules of the “Lucky Day” promotion even though the casino’s internal controls specifically call for such notices for any promotion which provides something of monetary value to the public.
The Board also found that Valley Forge Casino Resort failed to comply with the Gaming Act and/or its Board-approved access plan in providing extended days of benefits to seasonal and annual membership holders. In this matter, the casino dated seasonal membership cards to the last calendar day of the third full month and annual membership cards to the last calendar day of the 12th full month. This allowed the seasonal or annual membership to exceed the three-month or year-long period of validity. Such dating on annual memberships, in kind, meant the membership could exceed one year.
Finally, the Board found that Valley Forge Casino Resort failed to properly safeguard its assets by, during the period of the “Lucky Day” promotion, permitting Player Services Representatives to provide a $20 free gift card through the swiping and utilization of a so-called “Jumbo Card” rather than physically issue the gift card. The use of the Jumbo Cards was done in a manner that did not provide proper management oversight of the Jumbo Cards, thereby leaving them vulnerable to manipulation, although the Board did not find any instance of manipulation.
Issues involving procedures in the issuance of casino credit led to a fine of $70,000 against Mountainview Thoroughbred Racing Association, operator of Dauphin County’s Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course.
Uncovered through an audit by the Board’s Bureau of Gaming Operations and additional investigation by the Bureau of Investigations and Enforcement, it was found that Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course personnel were not following their internal controls and Board regulations associated with procedures for the verification and approval of casino credit applications.
Casinos may extend interest-free, unsecured credit to patrons for the purpose of playing slot machines and table games, but must do so following consideration of the individual’s financial fitness, and signed approval by specified casino executives. Hollywood Casino failed to follow required procedures in the grant of the casino credit.
Finally HSP Gaming, Inc., operator of SugarHouse Casino in Philadelphia, received a $20,000 fine for permitting a Self-Excluded person to gain access to the casino’s gaming floor and gamble in February of 2013. This was the second consent agreement between the Office of Enforcement Counsel and HSP Gaming involving this individual. That consent agreement in December of 2012 resulted in a $10,000 fine.
While a person is on the Self-Exclusion List, gaming facilities in the Commonwealth must refuse wagers from and deny any gaming privileges to that person. To date, more than 5,500 individuals have requested to be excluded from Pennsylvania casinos.
The next meeting of the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board is scheduled for 10:00 a.m., Wednesday, December 11, 2013 in the PGCB’s Public Hearing Room located on the second floor of Strawberry Square in Harrisburg.
About the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board:
The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board was established in 2004 with the passage of Act 71, also known as the Race Horse Development and Gaming Act. Pennsylvania’s first new state agency in nearly 30 years, the Gaming Control Board is tasked to oversee all aspects of the state’s casino industry. The 12 casinos in operation all offer both slot machine and table game gambling, employ over 16,000 people, and collectively generate an average of $4 million per day in tax revenue. A portion of that money is used for property tax reduction to all Pennsylvania homeowners; provide funds to the Commonwealth’s horse racing industry, fire companies, a statewide water and sewer project grant program, and the state’s General Fund; and, established a new stream of tax revenue to local governments that host casinos for community projects.
A wealth of information about the Gaming Control Board’s regulatory efforts and Pennsylvania’s gaming industry can be found at www.gamingcontrolboard.pa.gov. At this website, visitors can watch Board meetings live or view videos of past meetings, look up future meeting schedules and past meeting transcripts, obtain information on identifying a gambling problem and gaining assistance, access an interactive map of casino locations, request a speaker for their group, along with much more information. You can also follow the agency on Twitter by choosing @PAGamingControl.
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