Police: Parents gambling with kids' safety

BENSALEM, Pa. - August 12, 2010

That's what's been happening in the parking lots of the Parx casino in Bensalem, Bucks County.

Police say it would be startling enough if it was a one time incident. However, it turns out, there's a trend of parents coming here to the Parx Casino and gambling with their kids' safety.

Bensalem Police Thursday announced the arrest of Sharon Balek, a 35-year-old mother of two. She is now facing child endangerment charges.

According to investigators, Balek came to the casino on August 1st with her 8- and 15-year-old daughters in tow. While she went inside, police say, she left them outside, in the car for nearly 6 hours.

According to a police report, the 15-year-old's cell phone battery died, as did Balek's, while Balek sat gambling hour after hour. From 6:30 p.m. until 12:30 a.m., the two young girls were unable to contact their mother.

It wasn't until the older daughter convinced a passerby to let to her use their cell phone that she was able to contact her father. He came to pick up the kids.

Balek's arrest marks the 5th time Bensalem Police were called to Parx Casino this summer in response to reports of children left alone inside cars. In two other cases, arrests were made and charges filed. In three others, the parent left the casino before police could track them down. In yet another incident, police say, a mother repeatedly attempted to bring her 5-year-old son inside; each time she was denied entry by Parx security staff.

Parx management and Bensalem Police were unavailable for comment Thursday night, but the public safety director did tell Action News during a phone call that the casino has cooperated in each case and helped bring each to a safe resolution.

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