NEPA Scene Staff

Mount Airy Casino Resort fined $90K by Pa. Gaming Control Board for free slot play violations

Mount Airy Casino Resort fined $90K by Pa. Gaming Control Board for free slot play violations
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From a press release:

Today, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board fined Mount Airy No. 1, LLC, operator of Mount Airy Casino Resort, and SugarHouse HSP Gaming, L.P., operator of Rivers Casino Philadelphia, for violations related to the issuance of complimentary free slot machine play.

The fines, totaling $135,000, were the result of board approval at its public meeting of consent agreements between the PGCB’s Office of Enforcement Counsel and the two casino operators.

Complimentary free slot play is widely offered by all casinos in Pennsylvania as a marketing tool to build and reward patron loyalty and drive repeat visits of customers who might otherwise patronize a casino outside of Pennsylvania. Casinos must, however, submit to and gain authorization from the board for a “comp matrix,” which outlines who can issue complimentary free slot play and the maximum dollars that each employee is authorized to issue, and then adhere to the plan.

The fine of $90,000 against Mount Airy stemmed from an investigation by the PGCB’s Bureau of Investigations and Enforcement on the authorization and issuance of discretionary free slot play. The investigation revealed that discretionary free slot play was issued by employees in excess amounts that were authorized through the comp matrix. In this case, the investigation showed that Mount Airy did not adhere to its internal controls, leading to 491 instances where employees issued discretionary free slot play exceeding the authorized limit and totaling $262,500, including the alleged theft of $140,000 by one employee. That employee was later charged with a felony crime.

The approved fine for SugarHouse HSP Gaming was $45,000 and was the result of a similar investigation at Rivers Casino Philadelphia by the BIE into the issuance of discretionary free slot play. In this matter, BIE found 405 instances in which discretionary free slot play was issued by employees in excess amounts that were authorized through the comp matrix, resulting in $25,562 in free slot play. The investigation also found that Rivers Casino Philadelphia did not adhere to procedures for free slot play and its internal controls for the issuance of complimentary free slot play.

In other news, figures released on Oct. 16 by the PGCB show total gaming and fantasy contests revenue generated in Pennsylvania during September of 2020 was $284,235,444, which represents an increase of 1 percent compared to revenue generated in September of 2019.

Sources of gaming revenue regulated by the board include slot machines, table games, Internet gaming, retail and Internet sports wagering, fantasy contests, and video gaming terminals. In Northeastern Pennsylvania, total revenue in September 2020 at Mount Airy Casino Resort was $23,421,028, compared to $15,617,678 in September 2019, while Mohegan Sun Pocono brought in $17,037,606 in September 2020, compared to $17,677,503 in September 2019.

The next meeting of the PGCB is scheduled for 10 a.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 18. The board will announce prior to that date whether the meeting will be held online or in the PGCB’s Public Hearing Room, located on the second floor of the Strawberry Square Complex in Harrisburg.

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board is tasked to oversee all aspects of gambling legalized under 2004’s Race Horse Development and Gaming Act and the Gaming Expansion Act of 2017. In addition to slot machine and table games gambling at land-based casinos, the expansion includes online casino games available to date on 12 sites, sports wagering offered through sportsbooks at 12 retail locations and through nine online outlets, video gaming terminals offered as of this date at 37 qualified truck stops, and fantasy sports contests through six providers.

The mature land-based casino industry in Pennsylvania currently consists of 10 standalone and racetrack casinos in operation, along with the two smaller resort casinos. These facilities collectively employ over 16,000 people and, along with other types of board-regulated gaming, annually generate over $1.5 billion in tax revenue. Construction of a 13th casino is currently underway, along with a number of new “mini-casinos” expected to begin operation over the next couple of years.