Underage casino gamblers could face fines

People younger than 21 who gamble at Maryland casinos would face fines under legislation passed Thursday by the General Assembly.

The bill, passed unanimously by the House after failing the previous two years, now goes to Gov. Martin O'Malley. The measure had the strong support of Maryland's casinos, which have had to pay fines for allowing underage gambling when young people have sneaked past security or used a false identification card,. Their only recourse against the underage gamblers has been expulsion from the property,

The measure, sponsored by Sen. Katherine Klausmeier, a Baltimore County Democrat, covers minors who gamble or enter the gambling area and would allow fines of $100 for a first offense and $500 for a second. If an underage person is convicted of a third violation of the ban, he or she can be fined $1,000 and ordered to enroll in a compulsive gambling treatment program. The bill would let the chief judge of the District Court set a schedule of fines for prepayment of citations, much as the courts do for traffic tickets.

Michael Dresser

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