Sands Casino has been fined for two different violations by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.
According to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board press release, the fines totaled to $242,500.
The first fine was for 11 incidents, in which “individuals under the age of 21 accessed the gaming floor,” and some of them were served alcohol. The second was for “permitting the issuance of free slot play by employees who were not authorized to do so and/or issuing slot play of amounts above authorized levels.”
However, these fines are not a rare occurrence for casinos, said Richard McGarvey, the spokesperson for Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.
“The Gaming Control Board fines casinos more for underage gaming than for anything else,” McGarvey said. “I hate to say this problem is not abnormal. We put a lot of emphasis on casinos to make sure they are carding people when they come in and making sure they’re not allowing underage individuals to get on the gaming floor to gamble.”
Kari Moffat, ’17, ’19G, who is working on a group documentary about the casino’s impact on the South Bethlehem community called “Betting on Bethlehem,” said Lehigh students are not included in the effects.
She said Sands Casino does not focus on college students as part of the demographic it targets.
“I think in what we’ve learned, Lehigh hasn’t really come up,” Moffat said. “I think it’s interesting when Sands came, they were told not to market to Lehigh students. I don’t think it’s become part of their strategy anyway. They’ve got a different marketing strategy, and they are marketing toward a different audience.”
Sands Casino has not tried to appeal the fines. Instead, it has entered a consent agreement with the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board to handle the situation.
“There’s not really an appeal to take place here,” McGarvey said. “They freely entered into the consent agreement with the gaming control board, so it’s not something that they will try to go back in and appeal. They had the opportunity when we were going through all this and say no, but in this case, they signed an agreement with us to understand what they did wrong, pay the fine and take steps to make sure it doesn’t happen again in the future.”
Whether or not the business will be negatively impacted by the fines is unknown, but McGarvey clarified that the fines issued by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board are not in efforts to injure the casino, but rather to improve it.
Michael Kramp, an associate professor of English and director of the film and documentary studies program, said Sands Casino has been a “huge part” of South Bethlehem ever since it was built and has done a lot of good for the community.
He said the casino has given money to repair “brown field, which was a polluted area down there,” developed a hotel and donated money to the community, including local schools and soup kitchens.
“They’ve been very active in the community both in terms of their employees and also brought a lot of jobs,” Kramp said.
McGarvey said the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board is doing its job as a regulator for the industry, and they try to be fair about treating everybody the same in regard to administering regulations.
“We are not trying to drive them out of business or harm the business, but at the same time, we need to make sure they are doing what they are supposed to be doing,” he said. “It’s not that we don’t care about them, it’s just that we are the regulators.”