Nevada fines Caesars Palace for underage gambling

LAS VEGAS — This tourist city has for years prided itself as a destination for the entire family — from Daddy and Mommy on down to little Junior.

But Caesars seems to have taken the concept a bit too far. It was busted this week for what many might consider the unthinkable: kids on the casino floor — gasp! — placing bets.

This week, the Caesars Entertainment Corp. agreed to pay the state of Nevada a $100,000 fine to settle underage gambling charges, and the state’s Gaming Control Board warns that the outfit may face a stiffer penalty if any hanky-panky poker or slot machine incidents happen again.

“This is not an isolated incident, but a pattern of abuse,” Nevada Gaming Commissioner Randolph Townsend said Thursday as the regulatory panel voted to accept the settlement with Caesars over multiple charges of gambling and alcohol consumption by underage customers at several of the company’s resorts on the Strip between 2010 and May of this year.

He warned that the casino was getting off easy. This time. Board members say a paltry $100,000 is certainly not enough to send a message to the fantastically wealthy industry. But the settlement, negotiated by Nevada Deputy Attorney General John Michela, was based on history and precedent.

“If it happens again, I want a seven-figure settlement or else we will litigate it,” Townsend said. “As we enter the Internet gaming world, this becomes a significant issue.”

It is against the law for anyone under the age of 21 to partake in any kind of gaming in Las Vegas. In fact, anyone under that age is forbidden from loitering on the casino floor.

Caesars Entertainment spokesman Gary Thompson told reporters that the company “has been recognized as a leader in responsible gaming” and is “committed to its programs, including Project 21, which addresses underage gambling.”

Under terms of the July 9 settlement, Caesars agreed to pay the $100,000 fine and admitted to all violations in the complaint. The company has 60 days to report how it has addressed the issues.

Investigators say employees of Caesars Palace, Harrah’s Las Vegas, Rio and Flamingo allowed customers between the ages of 17 and 20 to play table games at the properties even though dealers were presented identification showing gamblers were under the age of 21. In May, a dealer at Caesar’s Palace reportedly misread the passport of a 19-year-old and allowed him to play blackjack.

Also in May, Bobbi Kristina Brown, the 19-year-old daughter of the late Whitney Houston, was caught on camera gambling in Las Vegas — playing slots with her 22-year-old boyfriend, Nick Gordon.

In 2007, an underage Las Vegas man tried to recoup his $600 loss at the Venetian by telling hotel officials he wasn’t old enough to gamble legally. He was later prosecuted on misdemeanor charges.

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