(WHTM) — Parents leaving their kids alone while they gamble happens more often than one might think. The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board is sending a stern warning about it.
The Board launched a “Don’t Gamble With Kids” campaign about a week before Thanksgiving, in preparation for what they say is one of the busiest times of the year for casinos. The Board wants to remind adults: do not bring kids along.
“That’s completely unacceptable,” Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board Executive Director Kevin O’Toole said. “It has to stop.”
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Since the beginning of 2022, the Gaming Control Board found 269 incidents of more than 400 kids being left unattended, some of them less than seven years old.
“We want it to be reduced or even better to go away,” O’Toole said.
O’Toole said the “Don’t Gamble With Kids” campaign is an effort to raise awareness about the problem. He said leaving kids alone is dangerous, especially when they are left in cars.
“If it’s the middle of the summer, and it’s 90 degrees and the windows are closed, they can die,” he said.
O’Toole said the Board hasn’t seen anything that serious, but people who leave their kids unattended can face serious consequences, including criminal charges and an investigation by the Department of Children and Youth Services. The Board can also ban them from all casinos in the state.
“We believe that they’ve lost that privilege,” O’Toole said.
O’Toole said many casinos are more closely monitoring this with more signage and security patrols.
“They drive around the garage and they drive around the surface parking lots,” he said.
Some casinos have even invested in technology like infrared cameras.
“You can see people in a car when it’s pitch black outside,” he said.
O’Toole said even if you think you’ll be quick, do not leave your kid and go inside.
“Whether it’s three or four minutes or 30 or 40 minutes, it’s a bad environment for those children,” he said.
Many casinos are also trying to get other customers involved. O’Toole said if you visit a casino and see a child left alone, you can report it to a security officer.