Casino security may soon detain underage patrons

Atlantic City, New Jersey (AP) — Security guards at Atlantic City’s 11 casinos may soon be able to detain suspected underage gamblers or drinkers on their own without waiting for police to show up.

The presence of too-young customers has been a continuing problem in the nation’s second-largest gambling resort.

On Wednesday, a casino was hit with a USD 20,000 fine for serving drinks to two underage women, and five casinos were ordered to forfeit more than USD 17,000 that had been won by underage gamblers playing illegally.

Once the underage players were identified, the casinos were obligated to hold onto money the gamblers had won. It now goes to the state, which will split it between the Casino Revenue Fund, which provides help to senior citizens and others, and programs to combat compulsive gambling.

The legal age for casino gambling and drinking in New Jersey is 21.

The state Casino Control Commission plans within 90 days to grant casino security the right to detain suspected underage gamblers or drinkers on the casino floor.

The commission fined the Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort USD 20,000 for serving underage women in Sept. 2007, and suspended a beverage server for three days.

It also seized money won by underage gamblers and people who had signed up for a voluntary self-exclusion list that forbids them from entering a casino.

The Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa, a joint venture between Boyd Gaming and MGM Mirage, allowed five people on the self-exclusion list to gamble earlier this year, winning USD 4,606; The Taj Mahal allowed 55 underage patrons to gamble this year and last, winning USD 3,863; Trump Plaza allowed two self-excluded gamblers to win USD 4,808 earlier this year; the Tropicana Casino and resort allowed 22 underage gamblers to win USD 2,463 this year and last; and Bally’s Atlantic City allowed 25 underage gamblers to win USD 1,855 this year and last.

Last month, the commission fined Bally’s a USD 157,500 for allowing an underage woman to gamble numerous times. In February, the Borgata was fined USD 105,000 for allowing underage gambling.