Step inside any casino and you will likely see a few children trailing behind their parents, or wandering around unattended. However, cases of children being left behind in cars at casino parking lots occur more frequently than casino owners would like to admit. Sadly, Pennsylvania’s Parx Casino is not a stranger to this scenario. Since 2010, there have been at least ten instances where family members left young children in cars, some on 90 degree days, while they gambled at the casino. In yet another example of this, over the weekend, a 29 year old man who had been in the casino gambling has been charged with endangering the welfare of a child after security officers at Parx Casino in Bensalem found a six year old waiting in the car.
Only a few months ago, another woman, also at Parx Casino, was charged with the same offense after leaving her 8 year old and teenage daughter in the car for six hours while she gambled and admitted to having a gambling addiction.
Previously, the Bensalem Safety Director, Fred Harran, had commented, “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 [..] 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.”
While the parents are at fault in leaving their children alone in casino parking lots, to completely absolve Parx Casino for the repeated occurrences of these cases ignores the greater question at hand. Why are so many people leaving their children behind here? When a casino is built in a poor, urban area, the gambling industry is deliberately catering to low-income people: those without access to childcare, where high-unemployment persists and free-slot play mailings offer promises of winning big.
The public safety director’s comments only prove just how effectively gambling interests have managed to transfer away any blame from themselves and onto the people they relentlessly target.
Six-Year-Old Left in Car at Parx
July 31, 2011|By Sandy Bauers, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
A 29-year-old area man was arrested and jailed Saturday after security officers at Parx Casino in Bensalem discovered a six-year-old child unattended in a locked car in the parking lot.
Bensalem Police said Sunday that no one was available to provide details. However, Parx spokeswoman Carrie Nork-Minelli confirmed that the incident had occurred.
According to news reports, the man was in the casino gambling at the time. The child had been in the car for less than 10 minutes and was unharmed.
“Our security identified the situation within mere minutes,” Nork-Minelli said. “The most important thing was that the child was okay.”
The man was charged with endangering the welfare of a child and recklessly endangering another person and was arraigned late Saturday by District Judge M. Kay Dubree, whose office is in Ottsville. Bail was set at $75,000, and he was sent to Bucks County Prison, according to news reports.
Bucks County District Attorney David Heckler said Sunday that because the case was handled in district court, he did not yet have details.
Nork-Minelli said the casino staff is “vigilant” about being on the alert for such situations.
Nine similar incidents were reported at the casino last year between June 15 and Oct. 11. More recent information was unavailable.