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11 N.J.A.R. 29

Div. of Gaming Enforcement v. Boardwalk Regency
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Citation: 11 N.J.A.R. 29
Decision Date: 1988
Agency: CASINO CONTROL COMMISSION
Synopsis: The Division of Gaming Enforcement filed a complaint with the Casino Control Commission against respondent alleging numerous violations of the Casino Control Act. The matter was transmitted to the Office of Administrative Law for a hearing. The complaint involved respondent's actions during one weekend when respondent attempted to accommodate a 'high roller' who, during the course of the weekend, lost $1.2 million playing roulette and blackjack. Respondent's alleged violations included the following: (1) allowing the gambler to walk through and place bets from the pit; (2) failing to cooperate with Commission inspectors attempting to monitor the gambler's actions; (3) failing to call 'no more bets'; (4) permitting a pit boss to act as curator of the shoe in a game of baccarat; (5) failure of the pit boss to wear his casino key employee license credential; (6) removing counter checks from the cage and taking them to the patron's hotel room in order to settle the gambling debts; (7) accepting as payment three personal checks, one of which was undated and two of which were postdated, and (8) improperly processing the patron's checks. The administrative law judge concluded that several violations had occurred and assessed penalties of $137,500 against respondent. Other violations alleged in the complaint were dismissed. Exceptions to this initial decision were filed, resulting in an Order of Remand by the Casino Control Commission. In the order, the Commission rejected some conclusions of law made by the administrative law judge and directed further proceedings based on its findings. The administrative law judge conducted another hearing and issued a second initial decision, which assessed an additional $40,000 in fines against the respondent. Upon review of both initial decisions, the Commission modified the conclusions of the administrative law judge. Regarding the removal of the counter checks and acceptance of the patron's personal checks, the administrative law judge had determined that three offenses had occurred in regard to the checks: the location of the transaction, acceptance of improperly dated checks and accep- tance of checks not made payable to the casino licensee. The Division had argued that nine violations occurred--three for each of the three checks. Respondent contended there was only one violation, namely a $1.2 million consolidation in which non-conforming checks were accepted. The Commission concluded that the Casino Control Act speaks in terms of individual instruments and therefore, three viol- ations occurred because three non-conforming checks were accepted. The Commission affirmed the $35,000 per violation penalty assessed in the initial decision. However, the Commission also determined that the removal of the counter checks constituted separate offenses and assessed a fine of $1,000 per counter check removed, a total of $37,000. In addition, a fine of $1,000 each was assessed for nine violations in connection with processing the checks--failing to initial, date and time stamp each of the three personal checks. The administrative law judge had dismissed the count involving the pit boss acting as curator of the shoe because, in his opinion, the pit boss was not a 'participant' in the game as that term is used in the rules of the game of baccarat, but was merely dealing cards to accom- modate a valuable patron. The Commission, however, ruled that a participant is a wageting player and, because the Casino Control Act prohibits casino employees such as pit bosses from wageting, the respondent violated Commission regulations in permitting the em- ployee to serve as curator. However, the danger to casino integrity in this situation was minimal and a letter of reprimand was deemed to be the appropfite regulatory response. Regarding the same pit boss's removal of his employee credentials, the Commission increased the fine assessed by the administrative law judge. The Commission noted it was particularly alarmed that top casino supervisory person- nel encouraged this violation. Thus, the Commission increased the $2,000 recommended penalty to $5,000. The Commission also increased the penalty for failing to call 'no more bets.' The administrative law judge had concluded that the dealer neglected this requirement because the patron spoke no English State of New Jersey 31 and was the only player. Nonetheless, a violation had occurred and a fine of $500 was recommended. The Commission doubled the pen- alty because the violation was intentional. The charge of failure to cooperate with the Commission arose from a series of actions by which employees of the respondent attempted to shield the 'high roller' from inspectors and hesitated in complying with a request to monitor the patron by television. These actions were alleged to violate section 80(d) of the Casino Control Act, which requires of licensees a continuing duty to provide assistance and information to the Commission and to cooperate in any inquiry, investigation or hearing. The Commission concluded that section 80(d) should be interpreted in the broadest possible fashion in order to maximize the obligation of licensees to cooperate with the Com- mission and the Division. The Commission called respondent's at- tempt to intimidate and interfere with Commission inspectors 'deplorable' and bullying tactics motivated by simple greed. The Commission doubled the monetary penalty assessed by the adminis- trative law judge, noting that this was the respondent's first trans- gression of this type. In a separate opinion, Commissioner Jacobson said he would have required temporary suspension of respondent's operation certificate and closing of the casino for a specified period of time, in addition to monetary penalties. In his view, the fines imposed on respondent would be regarded as merely a cost of doing business, instead of a deterrent against future violations. The penalty of $257,000-- measured against the $1.2 million that was lost by the favored patron--was not sufficient. Respondent had to chose between comply- ing with the law or accommodating a valuable patron. In deciding to accommodate the patron, respondent intentionally defied the authority of the Commission. Robert E. Reilert, Esq., for respondent Charles A. Matison, Esq., for respondent (Cooper, Perskie, Katzman, April, Niedelman & Wagenheim) Brian J. Molloy, Esq., for respondent (Wilentz, Goldman & Spitzer) Howard M. Barman, Deputy Attorney General, and Kevin F. O'Toole, Law Assistant, for petitioner (Irwin I. Kimmelman, Attorney Gen- eral of New Jersey, attorney) Alfred J. Bennington, Esq., for Alessandro Fornasiero (Blatt, Mairone and Biel)
Rule(s) Cited: 19:41-1.3(d) 19:45-1.25 19:45-1.26 19:45-1.27 19:45-1.28 19:47-3.1 19:47-3.6 19:47-5.3(b) 
Statute(s) Cited: 5:12-63(f) 5:12-80(d) 5:12-96 5:12-100(n) 5:12-101 5:12-129 5:12-129(5) 5:12-130 5:12-130(g)