Casinos fined $50,000 for jacking parking fees during beach concerts
Two casinos are paying New Jersey $50,000 after they improperly jacked up parking rates during free beach concerts in last year.
The state's Gaming Enforcement Division said Wednesday that Bally's and Caesars charged customers as much as $50 to park, despite being authorized to only charge $30. The agency also said the casinos changed parking rates while some customers were already in the garage, demanding they pay a higher rate than what was in effect when they entered the garage.
DGE Director David Rebuck said the casinos' actions constituted "serious noncompliance" with state casino regulations.
"The use of such practices by casino license holders reflects discredit upon the gaming industry, and constitutes an unsuitable manner of operation," he wrote.
The DGE did not fine the casinos. But they agreed to pay $50,000 to the state, which will be used for consumer protection programs.
Parent company Caesars Entertainment said it is pleased to have put the matter behind it.
"Caesars Entertainment is committed to being transparent in all of its operations," it said in a statement. "We regret any misunderstanding related to parking rates in our Atlantic City facilities."
According to the state, Caesars and Bally's applied to Atlantic City for permission to raise their parking rates on July 31, 2014, and a few days later, on Aug. 3, to coincide with free beach concerts by Blake Shelton and Lady Antebellum. The parking rates were to be $30 each day, but the casinos charged $40 or $50 per car, according to the DGE.
After being cited by the city, the casinos adopted a variable pricing parking rate plan. But for the next year, nothing on signs posted at the entrance to the garages indicated that the parking fee would be anything other than what was posted at the entrance when a customer arrived there to park. The casinos did not issue parking stubs to patrons upon entering, advising them to "please pay when exiting."
The DGE said the casinos then charged patrons the rate that was in effect at the time they left the garage, not the rate they saw posted when they entered.
If customers complained, they were directed to request a refund from parking booth attendants, who granted or denied them at their own discretion, according to the DGE.
The casinos agreed with the state to end that practice, and to give at least 72 hours advance notice to customers about changes in parking rates.
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