Senator Jimmy Dillon

Harrisburg March 19, 2024 – State Senators Jimmy Dillon (D, Philadelphia) and Chris Gebhard (R, Berks, Lancaster, and Lebanon) are pleased to announce the successful passage of Senate Bill 1021 by the Pennsylvania Senate Judiciary Committee.

With a bipartisan majority of 13 to 1, this vote is a critical step forward in ensuring the safety of minors and addressing issues related to gambling addiction in Pennsylvania. “I’m grateful to Chair Baker, Chair Santarsiero, and the members of the committee for their attention and support today,” said Senator Dillon.

In light of the increasing instances where children have been left unattended by guardians engaged in gaming activities, SB 1021 introduces comprehensive measures aimed at promoting responsible gaming and enhancing child safety across the state’s casino facilities.

“Every child deserves to be safe, and every individual struggling with gambling addiction deserves access to supportive resources,” said Senator Dillon. “Through bipartisan cooperation, we’re addressing these issues head-on, ensuring that gaming remains a responsible and enjoyable part of our state’s entertainment options.”

Senator Gebhard added, “It is very unfortunate that at nearly every Gaming Control Board hearing we hear about the rise in cases of children, as young as two months old, left unattended while their parents gamble on the casino floor.  I was happy to work with Senator Dillon on this legislation to address this disturbing trend.”

SB 1021 mandates casinos to implement reasonable efforts to dissuade patrons from leaving minors unattended, such as clear signage, notifications during hotel registration, and distribution of informative pamphlets. The bill also empowers casino employees with the training to identify and respond to situations involving unsupervised minors effectively.

Additionally, SB 1021 enables courts to direct individuals who violate casino self-exclusion lists to undergo evaluations for gambling disorders. This approach seeks to address the root causes of gambling addiction, offering pathways to recovery and support rather than punitive measures alone.

In 2022, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board reported over 285 incidents involving 464 children left unattended by gambling guardians. SB 1021 responds to this alarming trend with practical, compassionate measures designed to safeguard our youngest citizens and assist those battling gambling addiction.

“Our casinos are vital to Pennsylvania’s economy, generating significant revenue and offering entertainment to millions. SB 1021 strengthens our commitment to child safety and responsible gaming, ensuring the industry’s continued prosperity and the well-being of our communities,” emphasized Senator Dillon.

This legislation reflects a unified effort to protect vulnerable populations and promote a culture of responsibility and care within the gaming industry. Senators Dillon and Gebhard urge their constituents to support these crucial measures, fostering safer, more inclusive communities throughout Pennsylvania.