New Jersey regulators have seized more than $107,000 won by underage or otherwise prohibited gamblers at Atlantic City's Borgata casino.
As part of the action made public recently by the state Division of Gaming Enforcement, regulators also issued a fine of $81,000 for the Borgata's online gambling partner, bwin.party. The company agreed to the fine and did not contest it.
The cases involved gamblers who were under the legal age of 21 or those who voluntarily agreed to be barred from casino and online gambling for a period of time but were allowed to gamble sooner than they had been set out.
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Those so-called self-exclusion lists are meant to help people who feel they have a gambling problem.
The Borgata says it takes gambling compliance seriously and notes that it discovered and reported the illegal gamblers to the state on its own.
"Borgata's team members are well trained on responsible gaming policies, and we approach these requirements with the utmost importance," said Marcus Glover, the casino's president. "Borgata consistently self-reports to uphold our operational integrity, as indicated by the instances of forfeited funds rather than fines. Our company's record of supporting regulatory efforts is unmatched and we will always strive to uphold the highest standards, not only in compliance, but in customer care and harm minimization."
Other casinos or their gambling technology partners were cited for similar but smaller cases. Bally's forfeited $1,398; Caesars forfeited $3,530 and Hard Rock was fined $1,000 for underage gambling. Gaming Innovation Group was fined $2,000 for an internet gambling rule violation, and SG Digital was fined $1,000 for violating self-exclusion rules.
Some of the cases cited by the gaming enforcement division stretch back as far as 2004 -- the year after the Borgata opened.
Part of the problem involved online gamblers who had signed up for a five-year self-exclusion being allowed to gamble online by bwin.party after just one year. The companies identified 15 such accounts, terminated them, and Borgata reported the matter to the state.
Bwin.party was fined for the violation after the state determined it incorrectly processed player requests to be removed from the self-exclusion list; Borgata was not. Instead, the casino had to forfeit the money it confiscated from the illegal gamblers.
When a casino discovers an illegal player, it stops him or her from further gambling and seize money and outstanding chips or vouchers that the gambler had won, holding onto it until the state rules on the case. In the vast majority of cases, these gamblers cannot or do not prove that they were gambling legally, and the state seizes the money, which is split between a fund for senior citizens and the disabled and programs to prevent or treat compulsive gambling.