Two major casino companies have been fined by the Missouri Gaming Commission for allowing underage gamblers to play on their properties. Pinnacle Entertainment, Inc., the firm that owns the downtown St. Louis casino Lumiere Place, was fined US$60,000. Ameristar Casino, Inc., the company that owns the Ameristar Casino Resort in Kansas City, Missouri, was fined US$25,000. According to reports, underage players are getting past inattentive security guards.

A MGC investigator testified that he caught six underage players entering the Ameristar Kansas City casino after a security guard allowed them onto the gaming floor. The commission reported that part of the problem comes from a recent referendum that passed a vote in November that repealed the US$500 per day loss limit. The same proposition also repealed the requirement that new customers must sign up for a casino identification card.

MGC Chairman James Matthewson said that the state’s casinos should implement uniform procedures for verifying a player’s identification. Currently, each casino has different processes for checking a player’s age and eligibility to play. MGC Executive Director Gene McNary said that, since the casinos wanted the referendum passed, they should shoulder the responsibility of insuring that underage players do not step on the casino floor.

Michael Winter, executive director of the state’s casino association, said that the underage offenders in Kansas City were quickly caught by on-site security and escorted off the premises. He also said that, of the nineteen million players who have visited Missouri casinos since the passage of the referendum, less than forty players have been cited for being underage.

In the case of each fine, the commission stiffened the penalty over what investigators recommended. With the violations at Pinnacle’s Lumiere Place, investigators recommended a fine of US$25,000, but commissioners increased the severity to US$60,000. In the case of Ameristar Kansas City’s violations, the staff recommended a fine of US$10,000, but the commission upped it to $US25,000.

A spokesman for the Ameristar group stated that the fines were “excessive” and that “mistakes happen”. He also said that the security guard who failed to verify the underage player’s identification was summarily fired