At its monthly meeting Wednesday, the commission announced the penalty against the PENN Entertainment property stemming from incidents that included security understaffing and the ability of individuals younger than 21 to access the casino. It was the first fine the commission issued over casino operations this year, after several prior penalties focused on new sportsbook operators.
Details of the problems at Hollywood Casino were not aired publicly at the meeting. The five-page settlement agreement describes them briefly while noting PENN declined the opportunity for a hearing to contest the allegations. No PENN representative spoke on the topic at the commission meeting.
Not enough security personnel
Concerning security staffing, the settlement agreement said the commission had allowed the casino flexibility to deal with staffing shortages coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic, but Hollywood Columbus was supposed to notify the OCCC when “it was understaffed on security but failed to do so on several occasions.”
The agreement noted that on March 1 this year, OCCC enforcement agents inside the casino needed help with “an active incident,” but Hollywood Columbus was unable to send security officers to assist them “because of insufficient staffing.”
On both March 24 and 25, the agreement stated, underage patrons were allowed entry by security staff even though IDs they used had failed the casino’s ID verification system.
Under the settlement, Hollywood Columbus is to hire additional security officers on top of 18 newly employed since March 23. It also spells out a new comprehensive security plan and training processes at the casino and follow-up meetings with OCCC staff.
One of four casinos in Ohio and one of two owned by PENN, Hollywood Columbus is the biggest revenue generator in the state, having earned $160.1 million from January through July. It has more than 1,600 slot machines and 88 table games.
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