Gambling regulators in New Jersey recently seized nearly $70K in jackpots and gaming winnings that were reportedly unclaimed at Atlantic City casinos.
The NJ Division of Gaming Enforcement, which is tasked with ensuring that the casino gaming industry in the Garden State is fair for gamblers and free from corruption, made the move to seize the money after individuals who won the jackpots could not prove that they were over the age of 21.
Underage Gambling Charges in Atlantic City, NJ
A person must be at least 21 years of age in order to legally gamble in the State of New Jersey. Although it is legal for a minor to enter an Atlantic City casino, persons under the age of 21 are still prohibited from engaging in certain acts like gambling, drinking alcohol, or staying on the gambling floor. In fact, AC casinos typically have security guards on the floor who will check IDs to make sure that the gamblers are over the age of 21.
Despite the precautions taken by Atlantic City casinos, the reality is that some minors still find a way to gain access to the gambling floor. Once on the floor, the juveniles may be able to place bets on blackjack tables or in slot machines. However, the underage gambler can run into serious trouble when they win a jackpot. That’s because NJ casino operators will typically verify the personal information of anyone who wins a major prize. When the underage bettor is unable to prove that they are actually 21, the winnings go unclaimed.
In addition to forfeiting their winnings, anyone busted for underage gambling in New Jersey can be charged with a criminal offense. As set forth by the NJ Casino Control Act, codified in N.J.S.A. 5:12-119, underage gambling is a disorderly persons offense (or misdemeanor). This means that a conviction for underage gambling could potentially result in jail time. Moreover, the minimum penalties for underage gambling include a $500 fine and suspension of the offender’s license for six months.
AC Casino Winnings Seized by NJ Gaming Enforcement
The jackpots that were recently seized by officials with the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement came from three different AC casinos – Trump Plaza, Trump Taj Mahal, and the Tropicana – and totaled more than $69,000. In all three cases, the winners of the jackpots left the casino premises without claiming the money. It is believed that the jackpots may have been won by underage gamblers.
The bulk of the seized money came from the Trump Taj Mahal, which closed in October 2016. According to NJ state regulators, several gamblers at the casino failed to establish their ages prior to collecting their winnings. This included two people who reportedly won large sums of money playing poker.
Additionally, a small amount of money was seized from Trump Plaza, which has not been operational in Atlantic City since closing in September 2014. The reason it took so long for the Division of Gaming Enforcement to seize the winnings is that the seizures required official approval – which did not come until the end of November. Additionally, both the casino operators and the gamblers had a legal right to contest the forfeiture orders, so a proper amount of time had to be given to hear any appeals.
In accordance with the NJ State Constitution, the gambling winnings that were seized by the State will be used to fund programs that provide health benefits, transportation services, and other forms of assistance for senior citizens and disabled residents of New Jersey.
For more information, view the NJ.com article, “$69K in Unclaimed Atlantic City Jackpots Seized.”
If you have been charged with a casino crime in Atlantic City, NJ, you should speak with an experienced criminal defense lawyer immediately. The experienced, aggressive criminal defense attorneys at the Law Offices of John W. Tumelty can help you fight your charges and avoid the most severe penalties. Contact us anytime to schedule a free initial consultation.