A casino dealer who needed a little extra cash for some urgent expenses thought skimming a couple hundred bucks from customers wouldn’t be such a bad idea to help make ends meet. He now knows otherwise, and has gone from needing a paltry $200 to needing a whopping $75,000 for the fine he just incurred.
Pittsburgh Dealer Fined
The dealer, Matthew Eisenberg, was employed at Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh when the incident occurred. He admitted to stealing $200 worth of gambler’s chips to help with some expenses and pled guilty to the offense. Eisenberg was caught, and subsequently fired, as well as convicted and sentenced to a year’s probation for the crime. The real blow, however, came in the form of a $75,000 fine imposed upon him by the judge; a fine that his lawyer Michael Santicola called “cruel and unusual punishment” and completely unbefitting of the crime.
“It does not fit the crime in our opinion,” Santicola told CBS Pittsburgh. “I think it’s going to follow him around for the rest of his life. There are people who don’t have $75,000 in student loans and it takes them 20 years to pay that off.”
Gaming Act Sets Fine Amount
The fine was, in fact, required to be imposed by the judge under the newly revamped Pennsylvania State Gaming Act, and was the minimum amount the judge could levy; the maximum being $150,000. Eisenberg is the first to face that new provision of the gaming act, which was added last year, despite other dealers in the state having been charged with theft since that provision’s introduction. His lawyer plans to appeal it before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.
Pennsylvania district attorney Stephen Zappala says the fine is fair, and that the act was updated to protect the integrity of the casino industry.
“It’s important for patrons of the casino to know that there is a process in place to keep them from being ripped off, and to deter this type of behavior,” Zappala noted.
The case goes before the Supreme Court this week, and Santicola is hopeful, despite the court’s history of rarely going against laws passed by the legislature.