Casinos let minors buy liquor, hidden cameras show
Jon Woodward, ctvbc.ca
Published Thursday, May 12, 2011 7:24PM PDT
Three B.C. casinos that didn't ID a minor before they served him a drink at their bars inside could face thousands of dollars in fines and a two-week suspension of their liquor licences.
The Liquor Control and Licensing Branch plans to follow up on apparent offences inside the Edgewater Casino, Starlight Casino and Boulevard Casino, according to a spokesman, and B.C.'s solicitor general says she wants to take action.
"As soon as it was brought to my attention by CTV News, we contacted the BC Lottery Corporation to make sure there are tighter security provisions in place," said Solicitor General Shirley Bond.
CTV News hidden cameras watched as two 18-year-olds, with their parents' permission and under the supervision of a CTV News producer, walked into three Lower Mainland casinos without being checked for their ID.
A fourth casino, the Grand Villa in Burnaby, did check the ID of both minors when they tried to enter.
But once inside the casinos, no one, including the waitresses, the cashiers and the bartenders, asked the minors for any proof they were of age to gamble and drink.
"No ID check, nothing like that, and I'm only 18," said Ian, a minor who purchased beer at the three casinos.
He did not drink the beers, which were either left at the bar or dumped down the drain by a CTV producer.
While it may only be a small proportion of youth who would sneak into a casino, the urge to find alcohol is nearly universal among teens.
"I don't think that anyone wants to gamble at our age, but drinking, for sure," said Catherine, one of the minors.
Although having a minor on the premises is against the B.C. Gaming Control Act, there are no penalties in the law if a licensed gaming establishment breaks the rules.
But should a minor enter and purchase liquor from a licensed bar, the penalties are much more severe: a first offence could result in a $10,000 fine and an up-to-15-day suspension of a liquor licence.
"The ability to take enforcement action is dependent on the evidence necessary to prove that a liquor contravention occurred," said a Liquor Control and Licensing Branch spokesman, adding that the branch follows up on all alleged contraventions, including the hidden camera investigation.
Bond has already asked the BC Lottery Corporation to re-examine its ID system. One solution proposed by BCLC head Michael Graydon is to reinforce the practice of IDing people under the age of 25, and checking adult patrons' IDs at random.
Ian's mom Sharon said the lottery corporation should go even further.
"I think everyone should get ID'd at casinos, and once you're in, if there's any suspicion, ID them again," she said.
With a report from CTV British Columbia's Mi-Jung Lee
Watch CTV News at Six for a full report