Caesars Wrist-slapped with $100k Fine for Underage Gambling

by , Jul 27, 2012 | 4:11 pm

Caesars Entertainment Corp. is paying the state a $100,000 fine to settle underage gambling charges, but may face a stiffer penalty if it happens again.

“This is not an isolated incident, but a pattern of abuse,” Nevada Gaming Commissioner Randolph Townsend said Thursday as the regulatory panel voted to accept the settlement with Caesars over multiple charges of gambling and alcohol consumption by underage customers at several of the company’s Strip resorts between 2010 and May of this year.

Townsend, whose comments were echoed by fellow commissioners John Moran Jr. and Tony Alamo Jr., said Caesars was getting off easy.

“If it happens again, I want a seven-figure settlement or else we will litigate it,” Townsend said. “As we enter the Internet gaming world, this becomes a significant issue.”

Alamo said $100,000 wasn’t enough to send a message to the industry. He was told by deputy attorney general John Michela, who negotiated the settlement, that the figure was based on history and precedent.
“I think we could have negotiated a much bigger number,” Alamo said.

Two Caesars Entertainment Strip casino presidents, Gary Selesner and Rick Mazer, sat in the audience at the gaming commission hearing and watched the proceedings. Neither would comment.

Caesars Entertainment spokesman Gary Thompson, repeating remarks from last week, said the company “has been recognized as a leader in responsible gaming” and is “committed to its programs, including Project 21, which addresses underage gambling.”

Under terms of the July 9 settlement with the Gaming Control Board, Caesars agreed to pay the $100,000 fine and admitted to all violations in the complaint. The company has 60 days to report how it has addressed the issues.

According to the complaint, employees of Caesars Palace, Harrah’s Las Vegas, Rio and Flamingo allowed customers between the ages of 17 and 20 to play table games at the properties even though the employees were presented identification showing gamblers were under the age of 21.

Gaming control agents reportedly notified casino officials of the violations as they occurred, including an incident in May when a dealer at Caesars Palace misread the passport of a 19-year-old and allowed him to play blackjack.

The commission voted 4-0 to accept the settlement. Commissioner Joe Brown recused because an attorney at his law firm represents Caesars at the Legislature.

Gaming Commission Chairman Pete Bernhard said the fine amount hasn’t “diminished the seriousness” of the charges.

“We need to be vigilant,” Bernhard said. “I’m comfortable with the penalty. I don’t set hard and fast rules.”

In other commission matters:

? Gaming equipment supplier Shuffle Master was given approval to manufacture and provide interactive gaming systems.

Shuffle Master is the third company licensed for online gaming in the state, following June’s regulatory approvals for slot machine makers Bally Technologies and International Game Technology.

Shuffle Master Chief Strategy Officer Louis Castle said the initial plan is to place versions of the company’s table games on free-to-play social gaming websites. Eventually, the idea is to convert people who play the games for free into casino customers who will play the games in live settings.

? Online gaming operator Paddy Power, which is considered the top legal bookmaker in the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia, was granted a finding of suitability to operate in Nevada by the gaming commission.

The company, which is based in Ireland, does yet not have any business interests in Nevada. The suitability finding is good for two years.

Paddy Power Chief Executive Officer Patrick Kennedy told the Commission it was actively exploring gaming opportunities in Nevada and other American markets.

Kennedy and other company officials told gaming regulators that Paddy Power is debt-free.

“I love seeing company’s come here with no debt,” Bernhard said.

n In special meetings before both the Gaming Control Board and commission, a transfer in some of the ownership shares for the holding company of Aliante Station was approved.

During the hearing, Soohyung Kim, the CEO of ALST Casino VoteCo, the group that took over the North Las Vegas casino following the bankruptcy reorganization of Station Casinos, said the property had numbers in June “that were 20 percent better” than a year ago.

The ownership is in the process of replacing Station Casinos as the manager of Aliante Station, which should be complete by the end of November. At the time, the name “Station” will be dropped from Aliante’s title and the property will be known as Aliante Hotel & Casino.

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