Casino security may detain underage patrons

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) - December 10, 2008 The presence of too-young customers has been a continuing problem in the nation's second-largest gambling resort.

On Wednesday, a casino was hit with a $20,000 fine for serving drinks to two underage women, and five casinos were ordered to forfeit more than $17,000 that had been won by underage gamblers playing illegally.

Once the underage players were identified, the casinos were obligated to hold onto money the gamblers had won. It now goes to the state, which will split it between the Casino Revenue Fund, which provides help to senior citizens and others, and programs to combat compulsive gambling.

The legal age for casino gambling and drinking in New Jersey is 21.

The state Casino Control Commission plans within 90 days to grant casino security the right to detain suspected underage gamblers or drinkers on the casino floor.

The commission fined the Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort $20,000 for serving underage women in Sept. 2007, and suspended a beverage server for three days.

It also seized money won by underage gamblers and people who had signed up for a voluntary self-exclusion list that forbids them from entering a casino.

The Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa allowed five people on the self-exclusion list to gamble earlier this year, winning $4,606; The Taj Mahal allowed 55 underage patrons to gamble this year and last, winning $3,863; Trump Plaza allowed two self-excluded gamblers to win $4,808 earlier this year; the Tropicana Casino and resort allowed 22 underage gamblers to win $2,463 this year and last; and Bally's Atlantic City allowed 25 underage gamblers to win $1,855 this year and last.

Last month, the commission fined Bally's a $157,500 for allowing an underage woman to gamble numerous times. In February, the Borgata was fined $105,000 for allowing underage gambling.

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