Unwanted visitors sneak back into casinos in defiance of bans
Of the tens of thousands of gamblers who flow through Foxwoods Resort Casino and Mohegan Sun each day, there is a small group taking a completely different chance.
They've been warned and sometimes excluded anywhere from 24 hours to permanently from the properties. Yet they've returned to take their chances at evading casino security and even the state police.
Most of them, according to recent arrest reports from the state police's casino unit, are men who have driven hours to reach eastern Connecticut from such places as Flushing, Port Chester and Queens in New York or Ludlow or Newton in Massachusetts.
"Some of our detectives are on a first-name basis with some of the accused," said Lt. Mike Spellman of the state police casino unit.
Each month, the unit charges about eight people -- usually men -- with simple or criminal trespass at each casino. Efforts to reach - or locate - about a dozen people arrested since the beginning of the year were unsuccessful.
There are various reasons why a patron is asked not to return, according to casino officials. Ray Pineault, senior vice president of administration at Mohegan Sun, said there are two types of exclusions at his casino.
One is based on such inappropriate behavior as physical fights, shouting matches and other actions that often are fueled by alcohol. Those situations, he said, often result in a 24-hour ban from the property.
Other behavior - putting down bets too late, taking the payout tickets other people forgot at slot machines - usually first merits a warning before steps are taken to permanently exclude a patron from the facility. There's an appeal process, Pineault said, but repeat, excluded offenders who return are first spoken to by casino security. Those who don't get the message will be turned over to the state police.
"You are trespassing because you've been excluded, you're being told a second time and now you're back again," he said. "Now, you're just habitual, because you think we're not going to do anything about it because there's 30,000 people here a day."
Amondo Sebastian is the executive director of security at Foxwoods.
He said exclusions at that casino start at six months, and those who have been told to leave in the past should take heed. Even though about 40,000 people visit Foxwoods daily, Sebastian said, the security department has a current list of excluded individuals and a keen eye. And catching someone who shouldn't be at the casino is a daily occurrence.
"What they don't realize is a casino is one of the worst places to go if you're wanted by anybody, because of all the security cameras," Sebastian said. "There's a lot of ears and eyes out there."
The reasons excluded patrons return puzzled Chuck Berry of Charles H. Berry Associates, a Las Vegas casino security consulting firm.
"I haven't seen that phenomenon here," he said. "I don't know why people would continue to come back unless they think they're not going to be recognized."
Berry said someone may be confused as to how long their exclusion lasts or if it is permanent.
"There is the possibility, I think," he said, "that people could become confused to their status."
Pineault said it may be simpler than that.
"Maybe they don't think we're serious the first time," he said.
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AT A GLANCE
- Players who feel they have a problem with gambling can voluntarily exclude themselves from admittance at Connecticut’s casinos, according to Marvin Steinberg, the executive director of the Connecticut Council on Problem Gambling.
- “There’s no question that it helps a certain number of those who self-exclude not go back,” he said. “It bolsters their resolution to not go back.”
- Steinberg brought the program to Connecticut and said more and more casinos across the country have taken up similar initiatives.
- For information about the state’s self-exclusion program, call 1-800-34-NOBET or visit www.ccpg.org