Sands Bethlehem Has Racked Up Over $500k In Underage Gambling Fines Since 2009

Steve Ruddock July 13, 2017 1373 Reads
Sands Bethlehem Fines

Between September 2016 and March 2017, Sands Bethlehem Casino security was breached no less than 10 times, by no less than 11 people under the age of 21.

As a result, Sands Bethlehem Casino paid $100,000 in fines to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board; the largest fine for underage gambling Sands has paid to date.

Sands is no stranger to fines for underage gambling, as the casino has tallied over $500,000 in fines specifically for underage access from the PGCB since opening its doors in 2009.

Why was Sands fined?

The most recent incidents the PGCB fined Sands Bethlehem for were:

  1. A 19-year-old male and a 17-year-old female gained access to the gaming floor and both wagered at slot machines;
  2. A 17-year-old male gained access to the gaming floor and wagered at slot machines;
  3. A 20-year-old female gained access to the gaming floor and wagered at slot machines;
  4. A 17-year-old male gained access to the gaming floor and wagered at table games;
  5. A 20-year-old male gained access to the gaming floor and wagered at table games;
  6. A 17-year-old male gained access to the gaming floor and wagered at slot machines;
  7. A 16-year-old female gained access to the gaming floor and wagered at a slot machine and sat at a table game while her father gamed;
  8. A 20-year-old female gained access to the gaming floor and wagered at both slot machines and table games while also consuming an alcoholic beverage;
  9. An 18-year-old female gained access to the gaming floor and wagered at slot machines; and,
  10. A 20-year-old female gained access to the gaming floor on three occasions on a single day and wagered at slot machines while also consuming an alcoholic beverage.

The two that really jump out are the 16-year-old and the 20-year-old who gained accessed the Sands Bethlehem floor three times in the same day.

Here’s why this is a story

Every casino can be breached by underage gamblers, no matter how good security is. Sands is not the only Pennsylvania casino that is whacked with fines, however, we do single them out specifically.

What makes Sands’ struggles newsworthy is the stance of Las Vegas Sands Chairman Sheldon Adelson towards online gambling. In his anti-online gambling soliloquies, Adelson and his talking heads routinely state that online gambling sites cannot keep minors from gaining access. Or at least not as well as his land-based casino properties can.

Stopping underage gambling is a serious matter. Both land-based casinos and online casinos do an excellent job policing for the most part. That being said, no matter what safeguards are put in place, nothing is foolproof, as Adelson’s employees tell the PGCB.

“Anytime a minor is on the casino floor, we take it very seriously. We’ve had a couple where underage folks were aided by a family member,” Sands Vice President and General Counsel Michael Magazzu told the PGCB. “Even with the best technology, it’s very difficult to prevent those types of entries.”

Why does Adelson think it’s so difficult to police online gambling?

Adelson uses “family assistance” and technology as his two main talking points to denigrate online gambling.

Adelson likes to conjure images of an adult creating an account online and handing it off to a kid.

And despite no known instances of underage gambling at licensed online sites, Adelson constantly question the efficacy of the technology.

In a 2013 Forbes article Adelson was paraphrased as saying:

“He claims that there is no efficient technological way to stop minors or those suffering from alcohol or other substance abuse problems from gambling online, but that land-based casinos can prevent issues like money-laundering and stop people who should not be gambling from engaging in it.”

Las Vegas Sands Senior VP of Government Relations, Andy Abboud submitted testimony for a 2015 Pennsylvania hearing where we stated:

“Don’t be fooled by the technology companies that come before this committee today or in the future promising internet technology that will be able to prevent kids from getting online to gamble – because it is nearly impossible to prevent minors from gambling online.”

Upshot

Essentially, Adelson expects 100 percent success rate preventing underage online gambling. On the other hand, he doesn’t hold his own casinos to the same unattainable standard.

Scoreboard

Our tally of Sands Bethlehem’s fines is 53 instances of underage gambling and/or drinking, which has cost the casino $530,000.