Lawmakers say, ‘stop leaving kids in cars at casinos’

    In a meeting in Bucks County lawmakers and police joined representatives from PARX Casino to tell their patrons to stop leaving children in their cars unattended. Several such occurrences at PARX have spurred a call to make the misdemeanor crime into a felony.

    This summer gamblers at Parx casino in Bensalem have left children unattended in cars in the parking lot at least half a dozen times. Thursday, September 2, police, lawmakers and the casino announced their plan to improve the odds of keeping kids safe.

    Two Republican lawmakers from Bucks County plan to introduce bills to make it a third-degree felony to leave a child under age 13 in a motor vehicle without adult supervision. Under current law it’s a misdemeanor.

    Representative Gene DiGirolamo says the legislation sends a strong message.

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    “We’re not going to tolerate this!” he says. “We’re not going to put up with this!  Not ten seconds in a car are you able to leave a child!  A felony has a lot more severe consequences than a misdemeanor.”

    PARX Casino general counsel Tom Bonner says the casino supports the legislation and is trying to prevent kids from being left again.

    “At the Gaming Board’s request we’ve erected some new signage in our entry areas,” he says. “We’ve added a sign dealing specifically with this issue – alerting customers to the fact that it’s an offense for which they could be arrested and will be evicted from our property.”

    Bonner says patrons are encouraged to report unattended children to security.

    Senator Tommy Tomlinson says when it came to the casino, he knew traffic, crime, and addiction were concerns – but he never imagined this.

    “What we’re trying to say to people is don’t leave your children unattended in the car – period.  Anywhere,” he says. “It’s not safe behavior.  And please don’t do it at a casino, don’t do it at a Wawa, and don’t do it at a mall or a convenience store. It’s not safe in this world.”

    Tomlinson says although there haven’t been reports of a similar trend at other casinos, he suspects Parx might not be the only casino with this problem.

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