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House of Representatives
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session


Posted: February 6, 2017 03:30 PM
From: Representative Thomas P. Murt
To: All House members
Subject: Underage Gambling Penalties
I am planning to introduce legislation to increase penalties for underage gamblers at Pennsylvania’s casinos.

Gambling among young adults is currently at a high level. Studies have shown that young people age 18-21 are three times more likely than other groups to have gambling problems. Much of the research indicates that young people are not only gambling at a higher rate than adults, but are also at greater risk of developing serious gambling problems. While the motivations for gambling tend to be diverse, they are most frequently expressed in terms of a desire to make money or for enjoyment.

Currently under the Gaming Act, underage gambling is a non-gambling summary offense. A first offense is subject to a fine of not less than $200 and not more than $1000, while a second or subsequent offense is punishable by a fine of not less than $500 and not more than $1500. In addition, a young person may be sentenced to perform community service not to exceed 40 hours. I believe these penalties should be strengthened as a deterrent to our youth.

My legislation will increase these penalties and differentiate between a young person being on the casino floor and a young person wagering, or attempting to wager on a game on the casino floor. This legislation will repeal the provisions of the Gaming Act and amend the Crimes Code (Title 18) to create the offense of underage gambling. Specifically, my legislation will create two separate sections in Title 18 for the following:

For being on the casino floor where games are being operated if under age 21:
  • First offense: Fine up to $250;
  • Second offense: fine up to $500 and not less than 20 hours of community service;
  • Third offense: fine up to $1000 and not less than 50 hours of community service.

For wagering or attempting to wager on the game if under age 21:
  • First offense: fine up to $500;
  • Second offense: fine up to $1000, not less than 40 hours of community service;
  • Third offense: fine up to $2000, not less than 100 hours of community service.

The legislation also provides for a diversionary program in which the court may give first consideration to a diversionary program. The judge may order the individual to a counseling or treatment program for problem gambling. If the individual successfully completes the program, the court shall expunge the individual’s record.

Finally, my proposal will require the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board to place a young person on the exclusion list for a period of time following the person’s 21st birthday. This is a current practice of the PGCB, but this puts it into statute as a further deterrent to underage gamblers.

Introduced as HB839