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Missouri Casinos Hit with Fines for Underage Gamblers

By Tim Logan, St. Louis Post-DispatchMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News

Sep. 30, 2009--ST. CHARLES -- Missouri casinos have seen a rash of underage gamblers since identification requirements changed as part of Proposition A last fall.

And on Wednesday, the Missouri Gaming Commission made two of the state's biggest casino companies pay for it.

Commission members voted to fine Pinnacle Entertainment Inc. $60,000, for underage violations at its Lumiere Place Casino in downtown St. Louis, and Ameristar Casino $25,000, for violations at its facility in Kansas City.

In November, voters approved Proposition A, which ended the state's $500 loss limit and also ended requirements that gamblers sign up for an identification card before entering the gaming floor. Now, casino patrons need only show an ID to a security guard proving that they are 21 years old.

But those guards are sometimes distracted, a state investigator told the commission. He reported that six underage patrons had been caught at Ameristar's Kansas City casino this year, all of whom had been at first let in by security.

Part of the problem, commissioners said, is that each casino handles ID checks a little differently.

"We need to move forward on a unified system of checking ID's," said James Mathewson. "We've got a problem. And we seem to be addressing it. But we're addressing it in six different directions."

The Commission plans to discuss the matter further at its October meeting; In the meantime, members voted to levy the stiff fines.

"That should get the message across. The law is clear," said Gene McNary, the Commissions executive director. "(The casinos are) the ones who passed Proposition A. They have to make sure they follow it."


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