The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


November 4, 2013

Pennsylvania casinos urged to crack down on young gamblers


“They see an opportunity — just as they see with underage drinking — to see if they can do it,” Pappas said. 
The gambling rate among teens is climbing, said Karen Bennett, human services administrator for Greene County, where a survey showed that 14.1 percent of sixth-graders said they gambled for money in 2011, up from 9.9 percent in 2009. Statewide, 15.3 percent of students in grades 6 to 12 placed bets for money in 2011, down from 17.5 percent in 2009. 
Only state legislators can change the penalties for underage gambling, and some have tried, including state Rep. Paul Costa, D-Turtle Creek, whose 2011 bill to increase the penalties never gained momentum. 
Costa wanted first-time offenders to face a summary charge carrying a fine of as much as $2,000, or a $5,000 fine for repeat offenders. He is considering whether he should reintroduce the measure. 
In New Jersey, young bettors can face a fine of as much as $1,000 and a six-month driver’s license suspension. In Nevada and Ohio, underage gaming carries a $1,000 fine and up to six months in jail. 
Pennsylvania needs a bigger “hammer” when it comes to underage gaming violations, said Michael D. Sklar, an Atlantic City attorney who has appeared before the gaming control board on underage gambling issues. 
“In practicality, most municipal courts give a slap on the wrist,” he said. “If I’m a kid, is that really going to be a disincentive?” 

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