Don’t Leave Kids Unattended While Gambling, Warns PGCB

Rising number of incidents stirs PA regulator into action, launching “Don’t Gamble With Kids” campaign to raise public awareness of the dangers of leaving kids unattended.
Don't Leave Kids Unattended While Gambling, Warns PAGCB
November 22, 2022

As the number of venues has increased & new types of gaming have been added, more incidents have been reported. Pennsylvania regulators are warning casino patrons ahead of the Thanksgiving weekend — one of the busiest periods of the year for casinos in the state — against bringing their children to casino properties and leaving them unattended.

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) said Monday that it “has tracked an alarming number of situations in which adults go to a casino and leave children under their care unattended in their parked vehicles or hotel rooms.”

In response, the agency launched a public awareness campaign called “Don’t Gamble with Kids” on November 16.

“This has been an issue dating back to the opening of casinos in 2006,” said PGCB Executive Director Kevin O’Toole. “However, as the number of venues has increased and new types of gaming have been added, more incidents have been reported.”

TV Ads Are Striking

PGCB said that this year, its Bureau of Casino Compliance recorded 269 incidents involving 441 minors left unattended while one or more adults responsible for them gambled in a casino.

The 441 minors included 68 who were six years old or under. By comparison, there were 171 incidents involving 279 minors in 2021.

“We are hopeful this campaign will raise awareness not only for those who gamble and are responsible for children but also for the gaming public, who we hope will be more diligent in looking out for children at risk,” O’Toole said.

“Ultimately, we want everyone to understand the scope of this problem and know what to do if confronted with a situation in a parking lot, hotel, or elsewhere. That is, immediately report the situation to the casino or hotel security, who have extensive training on how to respond appropriately.”

The “Don’t Gamble with Kids” campaign includes TV and radio public service announcements (PSAs), social media posts and videos, and printed materials. The website has also been set up for the responsible gambling campaign.

Two ads from the campaign are striking — with heartbreaking images of a little girl waiting in a car and wandering around a parking lot and a little boy playing alone in an unkept hotel room.

“100s of kids a year are left unattended in Pennsylvania casinos,” slides from the ad tell viewers. A voiceover says, “Don’t be a parent who takes a bad gamble. Never leave your kids alone when you go into a casino.”

Many Banned for Child Endangerment

Child endangerment has been a recurring problem.

PGCB began to quantify why people were added to the involuntary exclusion list, starting with its annual report for the fiscal year (FY) 2018-2019. The agency reported adding seven people to the list for child endangerment that year.

The number excluded for child endangerment soared to 22 in FY 2019-2020, but fell back to 13 in FY 2020-2021. PGCB reported a record 24 involuntary exclusions for child endangerment in its report for FY 2021-2022.

When it announced its campaign, PGCB stated that adult caregivers who leave children unattended to enter a casino face a range of consequences, including:

  • Up to a lifetime ban by the individual casino in which the incident took place
  • Placement on PGCB’s publicly available exclusion list
  • Criminal charges filed by law enforcement
  • Investigation by the applicable county’s Department of Children and Youth Services

For a safer alternative, you can always choose to play at home on one of the best online casinos in PA, available 24/7.

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