Philadelphia Inquirer Scolds Pennsylvania PSA About Unattended Children

Posted on: November 27, 2022, 09:47h. 

Last updated on: November 27, 2022, 10:00h.

The Philadelphia Inquirer has come out in opposition to the state’s vast expansion of commercial gambling after the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) launched a campaign to address the ongoing problem of gamblers leaving children unattended in their vehicles while they gamble.

Philadelphia Inquirer Pennsylvania casinos unattended children
A child is seen left in a vehicle outside a casino in a public service announcement from the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board warning gamblers about the dangers of leaving children unattended. The Philadelphia Inquirer says the state is focused on the wrong problem. (Image: PGCB)

Earlier this month, the PGCB debuted a series of public service announcements (PSA) under the campaign, “Don’t Gamble with Kids.” The state gaming regulator initiated the PSAs after incidences involving unattended children left in vehicles outside casinos in the commonwealth spiked 60% this year from 2021.

“Never leave your kids alone when you go into a casino. Even if you win, someone still loses,” one of the PSA warns. “Don’t be a parent who takes a bad gamble.”

Inquirer: Casinos Partially to Blame

The Philadelphia Inquirer is the most circulated newspaper in Pennsylvania. And in a Sunday op-ed from the paper’s Editorial Board, the media outlet scolds the PGCB for not addressing the real problem.

“The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board has a silly solution for a serious problem,” the op-ed began. “Scores of customers at local casinos continue to leave kids locked in their cars while they go inside and gamble.

So how does the gaming board plan to address this life and death issue? With public service announcements. Is that the best the Gambling Control Board members — who get paid $145,000 a year to meet once or twice a month — could come up with?” the board questioned.

The Inquirer editorial team says the real problem is the state’s ongoing expansion of gambling. It began nearly two decades ago in 2004 when Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell signed off on allowing state horse racetracks to house slot machines.

Since then, Pennsylvania has undergone several additional rounds of gaming expansion. The state today is the second richest gaming jurisdiction in the nation behind only Nevada. Pennsylvania is home to 16 brick-and-mortar casinos, iGaming, retail and mobile sports betting, daily fantasy sports, and video lottery terminals inside truck stops.

The Inquirer op-ed goes on to say that the casinos and PGCB share some responsibility for unattended children outside casinos.

“Casinos are not passive businesses. They aggressively market to their patrons, offering reward points, discounted meals, and coupons for free play,” the editorial continued.

The newspaper’s editorial team says instead of warning gamblers about leaving their kids in cars, the state should be doing more to help problem gamblers.

“Running public service announcements will not stop the social ills spurred by reckless government policy,” the op-ed concluded.

Earlier Efforts Ineffective

The issue of children being left unattended in vehicles outside Pennsylvania casinos isn’t a new problem. The issue has stemmed nearly since the first legal slot machine was turned on.

Previous attempts to curb the dire problem, including making it illegal to leave someone under the age of 18 in a vehicle outside a casino and requiring casinos to regularly monitor their parking lots for such violations, have largely gone unsuccessful.

The PGCB’s PSA shared on YouTube isn’t exactly going viral, either. Nearly three weeks after it was published, the 30-spot has less than 200 views.

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