Harrah's Fined $40,000 for Marketing to Problem Gamblers

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Harrah's North Kansas City will pay $40,000 in fines to Missouri for marketing violations, including mailing promotional materials to problem gamblers who had voluntarily banned themselves from Missouri casinos.

Harrah's general manager Bill Keena said the company has taken corrective action and will pay the fines without an appeal.

"We made some mistakes, and we're not going to let those issues crop up at our properties again," Keena said.

Harrah's operates a gambling boat casino in North Kansas City, MO, known as the Mardi Gras Casino. Members of the Missouri Gaming Commission approved the fines Wednesday.

According to the preliminary disciplinary order, Harrah's wanted to reach new customers and acquired 29,000 names from two marketing firms, Cohorts and Global Cash. Between April 30 and May 3, Harrah's mailed a giveaway promotion offer to the names on the list without checking it against the 7,300 people listed on Missouri's casino-exclusion list.

People who voluntarily place their names on the exclusion list are banned for life from Missouri casinos and aren't supposed to receive direct marketing materials from casinos. At least six people complained to the Gaming Commission, according to the filing. A subsequent investigation by Harrah's indicated that the mailings could have gone to as many as 260 problem gamblers.

Keena said Harrah's marketing director and database marketing manager -- both named in the Gaming Commission's complaint -- resigned during the investigation.

"We have good procedures in place and people didn't follow them," he said.

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