This year, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board has noticed an uptick in the number of instances when individuals have left their children behind while they gambled. Consequently, the gaming board has launched a fresh initiative to address the problem.
The purpose of the PGCB’s “Don’t Gamble with Kids” campaign is to raise awareness and discourage casino patrons from leaving their children in the vehicle while they gamble at state casinos.
This is not the first time such public protection issues are popping up. Doug Harbach, the board’s director of communications, recently gave a presentation in which he said that so far this year the board’s Bureau of Casino Compliance has documented 269 cases. That’s up from 2021’s total of 171 instances, which included 279 young people.
A Persistent Problem
This initiative is meant to draw attention to a problem that the board and its staff have been trying to solve for casinos for quite some time. Thankfully, the regulating board has acknowledged the increased efforts of several casinos in response to demands to lower the number of incidents.
“We are hopeful this campaign will raise awareness not only for those who gamble and are responsible for children but also for the gaming public who we hope will be more diligent in looking out for children at risk… Ultimately, we want everyone to understand the scope of this problem and know what to do if confronted with a situation in a parking lot, hotel, or elsewhere. That is, immediately report the situation to casino or hotel security, who have extensive training on how to appropriately respond.”Gaming Control Board Executive Director Kevin O’Toole.
The campaign will be promoted through television commercials, PSAs, social media, online postings, flyers, and a website (www.DontGamblewithKids.org).
Dire Consequences for Offenders
Casinos have the right to permanently exclude adults who bring unaccompanied minors to the establishment or enter their names on an exclusion list if they discover that a minor is left unattended. Further, the offending adults may be subject to a CYS investigation or criminal prosecution.
Seven people have recently been banned from entering any casino in the Commonwealth after petitions were submitted by the OEC alleging that they left a combined total of 13 children unattended while they gambled. This is a reminder that the Board’s campaign focuses on protecting minors, and that adults should think carefully about the consequences of leaving a kid unattended.