The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


November 4, 2013

Pennsylvania casinos urged to crack down on young gamblers


Sands has been fined $220,000 since 2008 for incidents of underage gaming, according to state records. 
The state fined Rivers Casino on the North Shore $246,000 between 2010, when it opened, and 2012, records show. The Meadows Racetrack and Casino in North Strabane has been fined $80,000 since 2008, according to records. 
The Lady Luck Casino at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort in Fayette County operates a little differently. Because of the type of gaming license it holds, it is required to limit casino access to resort hotel guests, membership holders and patrons of resort amenities. 
There have been no infractions there. 
“We are confident that we do everything in our power to control access to our floor,” spokeswoman Jill Alexander said. 
Meadows officials say they’ve stepped up their campaign against young bettors. 
“The Meadows has fostered an increased level of awareness of underage gambling by training our security guards and staff, and educating our guests,” said Sean Sullivan, vice president and general manager at the Meadows. He didn’t offer further details. 
“We take this matter very seriously and support the gaming board in every effort to prevent underage gambling,” said Craig Clark, general manager of Rivers, offering few specifics in an emailed statement. 
Experts say that in recent years, young people swapped gambling for buying cigarettes or alcohol as a rite of passage. 
They say it can begin innocently when a youngster goes with a parent or grandparent to a weekly bingo game. As they get older, the child might receive a scratch-off lottery ticket for a birthday. In their teens, they feel the lure of bigger gambling opportunities. 
“We are an actively gambling society,” said Jody Bechtold of Mt. Lebanon, a social worker and nationally recognized gambling counselor. “There are not many messages that say, ‘This is bad for you.’ “ 
Teenage gambling is the fastest-growing addiction today, said Jim Pappas of the Council on Compulsive Gambling in Pennsylvania. 

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