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12 N.J.A.R. 699

Trump's Castle Assocs.; Gaming Enforcement Div. of v
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Citation: 12 N.J.A.R. 699
Decision Date: 1988
Agency: CASINO CONTROL COMMISSION
Synopsis: The Division of Gaming Enforcement filed a complaint with the Casino Control Commission alleging that respondent Trump's Castle Associates (TCA) engaged in advertising which was deceptive and misleading and also conveyed information about odds, in violation of the Casino Control Act and Commission regulations. The matter was transmitted to the Office of Administrative Law for a hearing. The advertising in question was undertaken in response to similar advertisements by Harrah's Marina Hotel/Casino. (The Division also filed a complaint against Marina based on its ads.) The administrative law judge assigned to the case concluded that the TCA advertisements violated the law because they implied that the odds of winning were better in the casino being advertised. In assessing a penalty, however, the judge considered as mitigating factors that TCA had acted only in response to a competitive situation; that TCA voluntarily ceased the ad campaign when the Division's objections became known, and that there had been no prior or subsequent complaints against TCA regarding advertising. A penalty of $30,000 was ordered. Upon review of this initial decision, the Commission voted to adopt the judge's findings and conclusions but increased the penalty to $50,000. After TCA appealed the sanction to the Superior Court, Appellate Division, the Commission issued an opinion explaining its reasons for assessing a higher penalty. The Commission said that in determining an appropriate penalty it considered sanctions imposed for similar violations in other cases as well as the standards listed in N.J.S.A. 5:12-130. A penalty must reflect the gravity of the threat presented. Severe penalties are war- ranted not only to sanction the violator but also to deter other licensees from engaging in similar actions. In addition, the Com- mission noted that it did not consider TCA's attempt to obtain infor- mal, prior approval of its ad campaign from the Division and Com- mission staffs as mitigating. Penalties cannot be avoided by seeking prior approval through contact with staff members. The fact that TCA was acting in response to Marina's ads also was not mitigating. TCA's advertisements violated the law, regardless of the motivation for the campaign. The Commission did regard two factors as mitigating: this was the first advertising complaint filed against TCA and the campaign was of limited duration. The penalty of $50,000 represented $30,000 for misleading and deceptive advertising and $20,000 for advertising about odds. The Commission's decision was affirmed by the Appellate Division in an unreported opinion. (A-0240-88T2, July 10, 1989.) Wendy A. Way, Deputy Attorney General, for the petitioner (W. Cary Edwards, Attorney General of New Jersey, attorney) Brian D. Spector, Esq., for the respondent (Ribis, McCluskey & Graham, attorneys)
Rule(s) Cited: 19:51-1.2(e) 19:51-1.3(a) 
Statute(s) Cited: 5:12-70(o) 5:12-130 56:8-2 et seq. 
Citation Tracker modified-Casino Cont. Com'n; affirmed -App. Div., A240-88-T2 , 7/10/89 (unreported) [Updated through 1991]