Bethlehem PA July 14 2017 The Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem has been hit with a $150,000 fine after minors were caught gambling on the casino floor 10 times in the last year.
The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board announced Wednesday that the Sands and the Office of Enforcement Counsel had reached a settlement agreement.
The deal marks the ninth penalty leveled against the Sands for violating state gaming laws related to minors and the fourth since its license renewal, according to the consent agreement. The casino opened in May 2009.
In total, the Sands has paid $430,000 in fines for prior underage gaming violations.
The 30-page agreement details how minors got onto the casino floor, how they were detected and how the Sands has changed its operations as a result.
The casino did not respond to a request seeking comment but the agreement does detail all of the steps the casino has taken to avoid repeat offenses, such as posting "you must have been born on or before" dates on schedules and cards at security podiums.
As a result, the Sands has implemented stiffer security screening at its entrances, resulting in almost 1 million identification checks from Jan. 1, 2016, until May 11, 2017. During that time, 8,096 people were turned away, 30 fake IDs were detected and 120 false IDs caught.
According to the agreement, some of the violations include:
On Feb. 8, a 17-year-old entered the casino through the main entrance and was carded, but the security guard did not take his driver's license out of his wallet or scan it. The license clearly stated that he was under 18 until July 17, 2017. He was on the floor for about 32 minutes and played at five slot machines before a cocktail server carded him. The Sands reported the incident and the guard involved was disciplined.
On March 1, William Stanley, then 19, and a 17-year-old girl sneaked into the casino through an executive office hallway by waiting for an employee to come out of the door, according to the agreement. They got onto the casino floor by going down a stairwell from the restricted back-of-the-house area, which is not manned by security.
Both were on the floor for about 20 minutes and played slot machines. Stanley was caught when he got carded at a blackjack table and ran. Both were cited and Sands self-reported the violation.
Sands noted in its response that the casino has many underage employees, who walk through that hallway in and out of uniform each day.
On Dec. 23, 2016, Jacob Thomas McCreesh, then 20, used someone else's identification to get into the casino. He was asked to show his ID again while playing blackjack and this time he provided his actual driver's license, which showed he was underage.
McCreesh was gambling for an hour and 19 minutes, but did not win any money or drink any alcohol. Many employees were disciplined.
A father and his daughter are permanently banned from the Sands after the 16-year-old came onto the casino floor with her dad several times.
On Dec. 17, 2016, Ted Romeo accompanied his daughter onto the floor and they were not stopped by security despite passing guards several times. The girl played on a slot machine and sat next to her dad as he played cards, where she was asked to provide ID.
When the teen did not provide an ID, security was called, but father and daughter bypassed security by stepping into the hotel. Minutes later they tried to return to the casino floor and were again stopped by security and turned away, according to the agreement.
The two returned to their hotel room, but about an hour later the teen appeared in the mall and security again approached her asking her for identification. The girl tried to return to her hotel room and security followed her. Security encountered Romeo, who refused to provide his daughter's identification and became disorderly.
Both city police and the Pennsylvania State Police responded. The teen was cited for being on the gaming floor. Many Sands employees were disciplined as a result of the infraction.
On Oct. 1, 2016, an 18-year-old walked onto the floor and gambled at 15 different slot machines over more than three hours before being carded. Amber Rose Morgan was not charged by police, but she was permanently evicted from the Sands.
Several employees were disciplined and a cocktail server was terminated because this was a repeat offense.
Here is a look at some of the steps Sands has taken as a result of the violations:
Generally, Sands security continues to hold pre-shift meetings on Wednesdays and Saturdays to remind officers of basic procedures, including challenging anyone who looks under 30 and issuing a wristband. All employees are reminded daily to be alert and stop guests who look underage.
The casino has created a new field training officer.
Posted signs remind minors of the penalties they may face to trying to get onto the gaming floor underage.
The Sands now posts on schedules and leaves cards on security podiums to remind staff of the date a person must be "born on or before" to be of legal age to enter the casino. Security checkpoints now have magnifying glasses with LED lights and clip-on LED lights to make verifying IDs easier.