Incidents of children being left unattended at PA casinos continue, despite an awareness campaign launched by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board and the required signage at casino entrances. At the latest meeting on April 26, the PGCB placed three more adults on the Involuntary Exclusion List for leaving children unattended while they gambled.

The three incidents involved six children in total, including a two-year-old and a five-year-old.

Young children left unattended at Pennsylvania casinos

The board was briefed on the recent incidents and unanimously voted to place each patron on the Involuntary Exclusion List. Individuals on the list are banned from all casinos and gambling in the state.

Offenders are not always criminally charged in these cases, but one of the recent three was. The details covered in the latest board meeting are as follows:

  • A male patron, with initials HH, left three children in a vehicle at Mohegan Pennsylvania Casino while he placed wagers at the sportsbook for 19 minutes. The children were three, eight and 10 years old. He was not criminally charged.
  • Female patron, TC, left two young children unattended in the food court at Valley Forge Casino while she wagered at the sportsbook. The children were two and five years old. TC later left the children in a vehicle in the parking lot, but was stopped by security before she could gamble. She was charged with a crime for leaving the children unattended and pleaded guilty.
  • Female patron, KS, left a 13-year-old unattended in a vehicle at Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course for 15 minutes while she cashed a check and played slot machines. She was evicted from the property for one year, but was not criminally charged.

PGCB awareness campaign and zero tolerance could be working

The PCGB launched the “Don’t Gamble With Children” campaign last year to spread awareness of the issue. In 2022, the problem had reached a boiling point. There were 303 incidents in PA of children left unattended while their parent entered a casino. There were 486 minors involved in those cases.

Last month, the PGCB added a former teacher and mother to a 14-month-old to the Involuntary Exclusion List for leaving that child unattended in a vehicle for two short periods. The woman made an appearance at the meeting to plead her case and ask for leniency, saying that being added to the list could tarnish her reputation and affect her teaching career. However, the board stayed true to their no tolerance approach and did not make an exception.

At that meeting, only two casino patrons were added to the list for leaving minors unattended. In January, there were four. It’s difficult to say whether the number of cases is declining drastically, but if we look back to October 2022, a total of eight patrons were added for similar offenses.

Some PA casinos take further steps to combat kids being left behind

The awareness campaign and signage aren’t the only preventative measures that the board and casinos are taking. For example, Valley Forge Casino installed special infrared cameras in their parking lots that can detect people inside vehicles.

Another casino, Wind Creek Bethlehem, offers child care at their Kids Quest center for visiting gamblers.

With PA’s numerous online casinos and sportsbooks, there’s always a gambling option that doesn’t require a trip to a casino.

Gambling addiction or problem gambling habits could be a root cause for this serious continuing problem. In Pennsylvania, the PGCB makes several resources available for help:

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