Hidden cameras reveal casinos letting in minors
Jon Woodward, ctvbc.ca
Published Tuesday, May 10, 2011 5:05PM PDT
Last Updated Saturday, May 19, 2012 1:42AM PDT
Three out of four casinos in the Lower Mainland failed to check ID at the door and allowed two minors in to play slot machines and collect their winnings, a CTV News hidden camera investigation has found.
Even though allowing a minor on the property is against B.C. law, casino staff greeted an 18-year-old man and 18-year-old woman and welcomed them into the casino, the footage shows.
"I just walked in; it was surprising," said Katherine, one of the minors.
"It's more like a greeting than checking to see if you're old enough," said Ian, the other minor.
The teenagers – who were filmed by CTV News with their parents' permission – were not checked for ID at Edgewater Casino, Starlight Casino and Boulevard Casino, the video footage showed.
They were stopped by staff at Grand Villa Casino in Burnaby, and told to leave. Allowing a minor into a casino is illegal under the B.C. Gaming Control Act.
The two teens were accompanied by a CTV News producer throughout their time in the casinos, and were only allowed to put a few dollars into the slot machines.
Spokespeople for the Edgewater Casino and Starlight would not comment about what happened. But Howard Blank of Great Canadian Gaming, which runs the Boulevard Casino, said his company's policy is to ID anyone who looks under 25.
"It's unacceptable," Blank said. "If someone's a minor who came through, we're obviously going to try and correct that."
Minors are especially vulnerable to becoming problem gamblers, according to a B.C. study. Some 42 per cent of problem gamblers started before they were 19.
The hidden camera investigation was arranged in response to allegations of porous entrance controls set up at casinos in B.C.
Gambling addicts who sign up to a program that is supposed to keep them out of casinos face little scrutiny when they try to enter, and some have returned to lose their life savings.
And the RCMP have expressed concern that casinos are not taking a hard enough line against loan sharks who, as long as they do not trade money directly with the casino, can operate inside the walls without being ID'd.
Minors are a third group of people who would not normally be spotted by the doormen, who Blank said serve primarily as "ambassadors," not security staff.
"They're ambassadors for us first and foremost, and secondly they're there for security purposes," he said.
Ian's mother, Sharon, told CTV News that she wants to see ID checks for everyone.
"What's the harm in it? If you're not doing anything wrong, then you should be able to produce that ID," Sharon said.
Sharon said she was glad that her son had been able to see what a casino was like in that setting, and said it was a learning experience. But she worried for young people who access the casino without the benefits of supervision.
"They just want to make money; they don't care about the health and welfare of my 18-year-old who may get addicted to gambling or drinking," she said.
With a report from CTV British Columbia's Mi-Jung Lee & Jon Woodward
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