Sands Casino Resort in Bethlehem took a hit to its bank account last week thanks to $230,000 in fines.
The Pennsylvania Gaming and Control Board’s Office of Enforcement Council met and announced two separate fines. The fines were in response to both underage gaming violations ($120,000) and improper use of free slot play ($110,000).
The Meadows in Washington County also received a $12,500 fine for an underage gaming violation. In that instance, an 18-year-old male accessed the gaming floor, wagered at table games, and was served alcohol.
Sands Casino has frequent underage violations
Sands broke underage gambling laws 11 times in this most recent complaint.
The Allentown Morning Call reported that a patron used his older brother’s identification to enter the casino twice in one week. Both times he gambled at table games and consumed alcoholic beverages.
The Sands Casino has a lengthy history of underage fines. PGCB fined the venue $150,000 in July 2017 for 11 other underage violations. Since opening, the casino has racked up 10 separate penalties and more than $500,000 in fines for underage violations.
Significant measures taken to address underage gaming
While the violations and corresponding fines are alarming, Sands Vice President and General Counsel Michael Magazzu highlighted the casino’s numerous efforts to combat underage gaming.
According to the Morning Call, the casino implemented a state of the art identification system in 2017. It also utilizes a two-strike policy with its security staff.
Security personnel can’t accrue two strikes in a single year. As a result of the recent underage violations, some staff members received their second strike. As such, Sands terminated them for failing to enforce proper protocols.
Furthermore, Magazzu noted that Sands Casino had 8.6 million customers in 2018. Security asked for identification 831,000 times. Of those, 4,510 people were not allowed to enter. Furthermore, 69 false identifications (legitimate IDs belonging to someone else) were confiscated, as well as 29 fakes.
Thus, the protocols seem to work much more often than they fail.
PGCB officials also noted that the Sands Casino likely accrues more underage violations because it is attached to shopping outlets that attract minors.
Second fine levied for slot play infractions
Sands Bethworks Gaming had to pay an additional $110,000 fine for improper use of free slot play. That fine resulted from employees issuing free slot play without proper authorization and also awarding free slot play amounts above the authorized levels.
According to the PGCB’s release “Free slot play is used to build and reward patron loyalty, and drive repeat visits from valuable customers who might otherwise patronize another facility.”
Last summer, PGCB fined Valley Forge Casino Resort $50,000 fine for its own slot play violations.
PGCB requires casinos to impose limits on the amount of free slot play a venue can give away. Casinos are also required to limit the number of employees who can give away free slot play as well.
Sale of Sands Casino could prompt security review
Last March, the Las Vegas-based Sands Corp. announced its plans to sell the Bethlehem casino to Wind Creek Hospitality, an affiliate of the Alabama-based Poarch Band of Creek Indians, for $1.3 billion.
The Wind Creek group filed a change of ownership petition with the PGCB this February.
Once the sale becomes final, Wind Creek Hospitality plans a massive $190 million expansion. That expansion will include 300 new rooms and perhaps even an indoor water park. The casino will also be renamed Wind Creek Casino Resort.
Wind Creek might do a thorough security audit in an attempt to curb the problem with the ownership change.
Certainly, they would be happy to save some money in fines.