Police say Paul Vargas, 34, of Bensalem is the sixth parent this summer who is alleged to have left children in the car while playing slots or table games at Bensalem's Parx Casino. Police said Vargas left his 7- and 12-year-old children and a pit bull puppy in the car on Wednesday night and played several hands of blackjack before leaving 10 minutes later.
Vargas was charged with two counts of endangering the welfare of a child, a first-degree misdemeanor. Bensalem District Judge Joseph Falcone sent him to Bucks County prison in lieu of $250,000 bail; a listed number in his name could not be found Saturday and it was unclear whether he had an attorney.
The state Gaming Control Board earlier this month, after a handful of such instances, warned the casino to do a better job of addressing the problem. Parx Casino officials have said they have taken steps such as adding more parking lot patrols during busy times.
"Our security is top-notch and constantly patrolling the parking lots to identify something like this. We act immediately," spokeswoman Carrie Nork Minnelli said Thursday. She added that players involved in such incidents are permanently banned from the casino.
The board also said the Bensalem police department gets money from casino revenues to patrol the area, so it needs to do a better job, too. Bensalem public safety director Fred Harran said police are doing their best, and state lawmakers should set a five-year mandatory minimum jail sentence for such parents.
"The gaming commission can criticize all they want," he said. "This is not Parx's problem or Parx's fault, and it's not Bensalem police's fault. We respond. We arrest. And the judge sends them to jail."
Harran has also said that police cannot enforce common sense on the part of parents.
"We're not the morality police and we're not the parent police," he said. "And unfortunately I'm not in charge of reproduction in the Delaware Valley."
Information from: Bucks County Courier Times,