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Rivers Casino contests underage gambling finding

Rivers Casino contests underage gambling finding

Four incidents of underage people in gaming area alleged
Rivers Casino contests underage gambling finding
The entrance to the Rivers Casino in Schenectady is pictured in 2017.
Photographer: Gazette File Photo

SCHENECTADY -- Rivers Casino & Resort is contesting a state Gaming Commission finding that underage persons were able to access the casino's gaming floor over the past year.

Commission spokesman Brad Maione said the commission found that in one instance since April 2017, an underage person placed a bet, and in three other instances an underage person got onto the gaming floor despite security officers at floor entrances. State law prohibits anyone younger than 21 from being on the gambling floor.

Four violations in one year could result in a fine of up to $25,000. Maione said a hearing before a state hearing officer began in late June and will continue July 25-26 at state Gaming Commission headquarters in Schenectady. The hearing is open to the public.

The hearing officer will make a recommendation that will then go to the full Gaming Commission for acceptance, modification or rejection.

Rivers wouldn't discuss the dispute on Friday.

"We cannot comment on matters pending before the New York State Gaming Commission," said casino spokeswoman Lisa Johnson.

Maione said the oldest of the allegations is from March 2017, about a month after the $350 million casino opened at Mohawk Harbor. While Maione wouldn't comment on specifics, it doesn't appear to be related to an incident in February 2017, for which the casino was fined $6,000 after a 20-year-old got onto the gaming floor and gambled.

Maione said state law allows a casino to be fined up to $25,000 for each violation beyond the fourth violation in any given year, "and such action as the commission may deem appropriate" -- but a casino has the right to appeal any finding against it, and have a hearing.

He said other casinos that opened in New York state within the past two years -- there are four of them -- have faced similar charges, though he couldn't provide details.

"We take our role as regulators very seriously in insuring underage patrons are not on the gambling floor," Maione said.

Underage gambling is a recognized problem in the gaming industry, he acknowledged.

"It's just like buying alcohol or buying tobacco," he said.

Underage persons are banned from the casino gaming floor except under a limited number of circumstances -- to use a restroom, for instance -- and when that occurs, the underage person must be accompanied by casino staff.

The Rivers Casino is open around-the-clock, with 1,150 slot machines, 67 gaming tables and a poker room.

Reach Daily Gazette reporter Stephen Williams at 518-395-3086, swilliams@dailygazette.net or @gazettesteve on Twitter.

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