Pennsylvania Board Fines Casinos, Punishes Sportsbook Workers


The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board fined Mount Airy Casino Resort $120,000 Wednesday for a series of auditing failures and revoked licenses of three Live! Philadelphia sportsbook employees for improperly taking bets that cost the casino $95,000.

The actions were among decisions at the board’s monthly meeting that resulted in a total of $147,500 in fines imposed on three casinos and placement of 12 individuals on the state’s involuntary exclusion list, which bars them from entering Pennsylvania’s 17 casinos.

The seven-member board had its strongest words for officials of Mount Airy, a family-owned casino in the Poconos region that has more than 800 employees and draws more than $180 million in annual slots and table games revenue.

A consent agreement announced between the casino and gaming board spelled out that Mount Airy officials failed to file with the board numerous internal audits that were required between 2018 and 2021.

The missing audits were to cover various aspects of operations such as cashier cage accountability, bank secrecy compliance, food and beverage operations, a compulsive and responsible gambling program, the surveillance system, and more.

It was ‘total systemic failure’

Attorney Adrian King Jr., representing Mount Airy, stressed that the auditing failures were separate from the issue of required financial audits that vouch for the overall collection and handling of revenue and distribution of tax dollars to the state, for which no fault was found. The seven-member board was still aghast, however, at repeated lapses in the casino’s oversight of its own operations.

“You had a total systemic failure — this is totally unacceptable,” said board member Sara Manzano-Diaz, who cast a sole vote against the consent agreement, maintaining that the $120,000 fine should have been higher.

King said that the casino had replaced its general manager and chief financial officer and overhauled its auditing department “to clean house,” with acceptance of responsibility.

“I cannot fix the past, but I sure can fix what’s going on now and what’s going to be happening in the future,” Ben Koff, Mount Airy’s new hire as general manager in January, said in seeking to assure the board that all future reports will be conducted and submitted on a timely basis.

Board members voting for the consent agreement said he should be given a chance to prove his words. However, member Frank Dermody cautioned, “If there’s a system failure like this again, the result won’t be the same.”

Losing bettor wouldn’t pay up

Pennsylvania’s regulatory agency also fined Mohegan Pennsylvania $20,000 for promoting multiple employees into positions for which they lacked suitable licenses. Two individuals remained in their posts for two or more years before obtaining the proper licensing upgrade.

Rivers Philadelphia, meanwhile, was fined $7,500 for failure to communicate to the gaming board in the required time frame about a cheating incident by a patron who marked cards playing Mississippi Stud.

More eye-opening, however, was a rare case of improper sportsbook activity that was announced, although the Live! Philadelphia casino where it occurred was not the subject of punishment. Instead, its former sportsbook supervisor, Gianno Longo, and two former ticket writers for the book, Ryan Hanley and Omar Muhammad, lost their gaming licenses for June 2022 activity that was costly to the sportsbook.

The board’s Office of Enforcement Counsel reported that the three were involved in placing three wagers of $37,500, $37,500, and $20,000 for a customer, Rocco Giunta, who was not physically present to make the bets and provide money for them. The wagers lost, and he refused to pay. A board investigation found similar prior incidents involving the trio of employees.

When asked if some sort of conspiracy had taken place among the employees and Giunta, a board attorney responded, “They asserted that it was good customer service, but we do have … security footage showing they were also tipped for their service.”

In addition to being terminated and now banned hereafter from working in the industry, Longo, as the supervisor who communicated directly with Giunta, was charged with theft of services and entered a summary diversion program to resolve the offense.

Giunta himself was among those placed on the board’s involuntary exclusion list Wednesday. He also entered a summary diversion program after being charged with theft of service. While he is to pay restitution, the staff attorney said Giunta has thus far paid only $400 of the $95,000.

Photo: Shutterstock

Author: Ryan Gonzales