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They Were Expendable


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.


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  1. Jonathan


    Great illustration of gambling’s predatory nature. So what if kids are left in cars while their parents gamble? Blame it on the parents. Don’t blame it on our (addictive) products.

  2. The government policy of predatory gambling does indeed render these kids expendable

    Excellent post, Catherine. The quote by Bensalem Safety Director, Fred Harran is one for the ages: “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.”

  3. Charlotte

    Children of Gamblers

    So! Let me see! The police are “doing their job,” the casino has no responsibility, the parents are at fault, the Safety (and I use that term loosely!!!) Director is a sarcastic excuse for a human as he tells us he is not in charge of reproduction. Reminds me of a story often passed around in the educational field: College professors blame the high school teachers for sending unprepared students to them. The high school teachers blame the middle school teachers. The middle school teachers blame the elementary teachers, who, in turn, blame the families they come from. When you meet the family, the Mother says, “It must be from his/her father’s side of the family.” In the meantime, the child does not get the education he or she needs. I see the same thing here. Children have died in cars while their parents who are pathologically addicted gamble far longer than they had intended to! The question is: How much longer are we going to let the predatory gambling industry lure people in to the point they neglect their own children? WHO will advocate for the children? How many children have to be victimized by addicted parents for the “pusher” to be held accountable? Someone recently pointed out to me that if only 3-5 percent of the patrons of a casino came out with broken legs, they place would be closed and put under investigation as to why so many had broken legs. How many children and spouses have to be injured or die as a result of addiction to the types of products offered by casinos before we say, “Enough!”?

  4. Middleboro Remembers

    Parx: 2nd child left in car in less than a week

    In a follow-up article, posted here:

    This was additional information:
    In today’s release, Anisman said the temperature was over 90 degrees at the time of the incident and witnesses described the child as being sweaty, hot and her face was flush. He said the child was treated at the scene by Bensalem Rescue and released.

    Bensalem police spokesman Sgt. Andrew Anisman confirmed the incident Sunday and released additional information today.

    “This is the second case in less than a week,” he added.

    •On July 16 at 6:55 p.m., Parx security observed three children left alone inside a running vehicle. Bensalem police found a 1-year-old boy, a 2-year-old boy and a 9-year-old girl in the car for at least 17 minutes. Frances Casey, 39, of Abington, the children’s aunt, said she went into the casino to redeem a promotional voucher for free pots and pans. She also played two slot machines before returning to her vehicle. Casey was charged with endangering the welfare of children. She will appear in court at a later date.

    What is troubling is that the previous case was not reported [that I found] which raises the troubling issue that these cases are not being picked up by the papers because they are become ‘common’ everyday events.

    I met a woman who meets her 2 sisters at Foxwoods for a weekend annually because it’s centrally located from where each lives and allows the 3 of them to ‘catch up’ for a weekend. [They don’t gamble.] They sit up talking through the night and she explained that young children can be seen running through the halls, unsupervised during the night – 2 AM, 3 AM and it’s permissable.

    Is there truly a difference between leaving your children unattended in vehicles, which we all know is life threatening or allowing them to run through corridors unattended which might also be life threatening?

  5. Greg Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

    Gambling kids left outside while their parents gamble

    You think its bad in America with its gambling. Well here in Australia its far much worse. Apart from having over 20% of the World’s slots (pokies as we call them here in Australia) we have them literally all over the place like a plague. I have actually seen on at least one occasion a woman playing the slots in a club ( oh you must remember except in the state of Western Australia all other states in Australia allow slots not only in casinos but also in bars and clubs) with her 3 kids standing only a few feet away! Yes the bar tender was aware but he did nothing and all our gambling regulatory authorities would do would be to slap the club concerned over the wrist. Please see other examples I have given in my comment under the blog Bally Slots February 4, 2011.

    Slots are so insidious or in your face here that in Sydney’s CBD on average one is only less than 100 yards from a slot machine and in the suburbs just about every shopping centre no matter how small has at least one venue with slots meaning that on average one is only about 15 minutes walk from a slot machine or a 3 minute drive.

    I know of one case where a young teenage girl went to the trouble of walking to a bar less than 10 minutes away from where she and her father were staying for holidays being suspicious that he was at this bar playing the slots/pokies. Fortunately one of the bar staff was able to persuade him to go outside and see his daughter. Thankfully he does not gamble regularly on the slots. No the bars(pubs) and clubs take little responsibility for people becoming addicted by the slots. I have seen bar staff monitoring the closed circuit TV having a laugh when someone is losing big at the slots.

    What makes it worse is the power of the gambilng industry in Australia. For instance the Premier of New South Wales within the past couple of days effectively gave the clubs industry in New South Wales a tax rebate of $300 million when New South Wales desperately needs more funding for its government health and law enforcement services.

    Just Google “poker machine addiction in Australia” and what you will read, see and hear will be a salutary warning about the stranglehold the gambling industry has generally over politicians, the media and yes even to some degree the Roman Catholic Church!

    Clubs and more so pubs put little back in the community with their obscene profits. In medium sized clubs it is not unusual for the general manager to get a salary of over $500,000 a year along with other perks including a luxury automobile. Despite media propogand clubs and pubs do not give value for money with their generally over priced drinks and food.

  6. Greg, Sydney, Australia

    Gambling kids left outside while their parents gamble

    Please not only see my above comments but also those under February 4 , 2011 entry “Bally Slotswin covettedn title of Best Slots manufacturer heads to roll at IGT.” of the Blog ” Slots and Video Poker machines”

  7. Pingback: Predatory Gambling Interests Putting Children at Risk Again | Stop Predatory Gambling

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