Mohegan Sun Pocono Fined $150K by Pennsylvania Board Over Repeated Security Staffing Issues

Posted on: October 2, 2019, 10:43h. 

Last updated on: October 3, 2019, 11:07h.

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) on Wednesday levied a $150,000 fine at the Mohegan Sun Pocono casino for repeatedly failing to meet state requirements regarding the minimum staffing levels needed for security personnel.

The Mohegan Sun Pocono faced a security staffing crunch earlier this year due to new warehouses opening up near the Wilkes-Barre, Pa. casino and the federal government shutdown. Because of the shortages, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board fined the casino $150,000 on Wednesday. (Image: Mohegan Sun Pocono)

According to the consent agreement approved by the PGCB at its board meeting, the Wilkes-Barre casino failed to properly staff its security contingent a total of 91 days between Jan. 3 and April 28 of this year, a span of 116 days.

While all the casino properly staffed all entrances, it did not have adequate rover staff on hand for its overnight shift. In some cases, there were periods – usually for an hour at a time – where the security personnel were light by as many as three guards.

“Downs Racing obviously takes this matter very seriously and accepts responsibility for the deviations from internal controls that are subject to this consent agreement, and have worked with the Office of Enforcement Counsel to resolve the matter,” Christopher Soriano, the casino’s lawyer, told the PGCB commissioners.

‘A Bad Mess’

The issue stemmed from the opening of two major distribution centers in the Wilkes-Barre area late last year, casino General Manager Tony Carlucci said at the meeting. Those warehouses ended up attracting a high number of security guards from the Mohegan Sun.

“We got ourselves into a bad mess,” he said.

State officials first became aware of the matter last November and worked with Carlucci and his staff to expedite the licensing of the casino’s new security staff.

However, the 34-day federal government shutdown then took effect beginning on Dec. 22. That hindered the Mohegan Sun’s efforts for almost all of January to on-board new guards, because the Internal Revenue Service was unable to conduct background checks on candidates. As new guards awaited their background checks, many ended up taking jobs elsewhere.

Since then, the casino has taken measures to ensure its security staff meets at least the state minimum at all times. Casino officials explained to the commissioners the lessons learned and the practices implemented to prevent a similar issue from arising a second time.

One of the measures taken was bumping the starting pay for guards from $9.50 an hour to $11.50 an hour to help keep them on staff. Guards on overnight shifts now make as much as $15 an hour, and the casino offered retention bonuses for guards who stayed for three and six months.

In all frankness, if I had a do-over, I should have done (these steps) before the warehouses opened, and I apologize,” Carlucci said.

PGCB Chief Enforcement Counsel Cyrus Pitre told the commissioners that he even arranged a call with Mohegan Sun officials in Connecticut — a move he said Carlucci may not have known — to make sure the Pocono casino had the corporate resources it needed to bolster retention rates.

About Mohegan Sun Pocono

Formerly known as Pocono Downs, the Mohegan Sun Pocono features harness racing and 82,000 square feet of casino gaming space. It offers more than 2,300 slot machines, as well as table games.

Mohegan Sun, which is owned by the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority, purchased the track from Penn National Gaming in January 2005 for $280 million. In November 2006, it became Pennsylvania’s first slot machine casino. After Pennsylvania legalized table games in January 2010, the casino offered them to its customers that July.