PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Blackjack dealers at the Rivers Casino are under constant surveillance, so when a camera caught dealer Matthew Eisenberg skimming $200, he was fired and criminal charges were filed.
“He shouldn’t have done it – no doubt about it,” Attorney Michael Santicola said.
Santicola says the 26-year-old — now former dealer — gratefully accepted a judge’s sentence of restitution and one-year probation. But under the state gaming law, the judge was also required to impose a minimum $75,000 fine for theft in a casino — an amount Santicola calls absurd.
“It shocks the conscience that we would have a legislature that would write a law that puts the casino above every other business — above a church, above a senior citizen’s home, above you, above me,” Santicola said.
There have been other thefts in casinos, but this is the first prosecuted under the gaming act. District Attorney Stephen Zappala’s office says the state statute is a deterrent.
“We believe that the crime fits the statute as written and we believe that the General Assembly wrote the statute to protect the integrity of the casino process. We also believe that it’s important for the patrons of the casino to know that there is a process in place to keep them from being ripped off and to deter the type of behavior that was described in court this morning.”
But Santicola says his client is recently married, back in school and trying to get his life together. He called the law unconstitutional for being cruel and unusual punishment.
“Cruel? Money is not necessarily cruel, but it certainly is unusual,” he said. “I think it’s unprecedented.”
Either way, this case is going to be on appeal. It will be a test case for the legitimacy of this gaming law unless the legislature changes it first.