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Politician: Make Underage Gambling a Criminal Offense

3 August 2011 by admin

pennsylvaniaEveryone, including pro and anti-gambling politicians, want to keep underage people off of the casino floor. Underage gambling is a major reason many people oppose gambling in the first place, and why some try to block casino expansion or regulation of online casino gambling. With the exception of underage people who want to gamble, and perhaps a few unscrupulous casino owners, everyone wants to stop the problem, but how?

A Pennsylvania politician thinks he has a solution. Currently in most jurisdictions the punishment is too small. The casino gets a fine and the gambler usually gets nothing. Representative Paul Costa (D-Turtle Creek) wants to make underage gambling in the state a criminal offense.

The current prohibition “is classified as a non-gaming summary offense, which is not a disincentive and nothing more than a slap on the wrist,” he said. Costa has some sway when it comes to the issue. He is a member of the Pennsylvania House Gaming Oversight Committee.

It is currently illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to gamble in Pennsylvania. Costa’s proposal would make the first offense for gambling underage carry a fine up to $2,000. A second and any subsequent offenses would be a third-degree misdemeanor, carrying a fine of up to $5,000. In addition, there would be increased penalties if the gambler used a fake ID to gain entry to the casino.

In addition to the fine and criminal record that gambling under the age of 21 would carry, Costa is considering requiring forfeiture of any gambling winnings and forcing the offender to be placed on an excluded gambler’s list.

The purpose of Costa’s proposal is clear. He wants to make the repercussions of underage gambling too bad for someone to risk getting caught. Costa says that his legislation would make sure minors know that “taking a chance at a casino” is going to have “lasing consequences.”

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