Hilton Casino Fined for Underage Gambling

He played blackjack, poker, roulette, slots and a card game called Spanish 21.

He got a player's club card, had an account opened to track his gambling, and was even given a free room.

And he was only 19.

Because of that, the Atlantic City Hilton Casino resort was fined $115,000 Wednesday.

It was the second-highest fine ever imposed on an Atlantic City casino for underage gambling. State law requires gamblers to be at
least 21.

"We have a big concern about it because kids can make themselves look older, and that's problematic,'" said Linda Kassekert, chairwoman of the New Jersey Casino Control Commission, which imposed the fine.

Part of the reason the fine was so high is because the state Division of Gaming Enforcement had alerted the casino that the player, identified only as ``M.R.,'' was underage. Yet the casino continued to allow him to play even after being notified, due in part to a problem with the way its internal computers were set up that kept certain employees from reading messages entered by others, according to the commission.

The casino did not contest the charges, and has since taken steps to correct the problem, authorities said.

Karen Wosnack, a Hilton vice president, declined comment after the hearing.

The trouble began when the man applied for and was granted a player's account at the Hilton on Jan. 25, 2007. He was 19 at the time, but provided fake identification indicating he was 24.

In March 2007, he played cards, table games and slots for nearly three hours.

In April 2008 he played roulette and slots for about two hours.

The Hilton did not initially know that ``M.R.'' had been arrested in February 2008 at a different, unnamed casino for underage gambling, and told police his true age. In April 2008, the Gaming Enforcement Division was cross-checking records, found one for "M.R.'' at the Hilton, and notified the casino that he was underage.

But the next day, the casino allowed the man to gamble some more, for nearly three hours.

It could not immediately be determined how much he had won or lost. Anything the casinos won from him must be returned to the

The largest fine for allowing underage gambling was paid last year by Bally's Atlantic City, which was fined $157,500. Earlier that year, the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa was fined $105,000 for allowing underage gambling.

Kassekert said the casinos generally do a good job of identifying underage players, including asking for identification from those who appear to be too young.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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