Atlantic City casinos face compliance checks for accessibility by disabled people
Americas, April 6 2011
ATLANTIC CITY: The U.S. Attorney’s Office in New Jersey will inspect the Atlantic City casino hotels to make sure they are accessible to people who have disabilities.
In a news release Wednesday, New Jersey U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman said his office will determine whether the casinos are complying with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Fishman has sent a survey to the casinos asking them to describe how patrons with disabilities are able to enter and use their properties. The next step calls for on-site inspections.
“We want to make sure people with disabilities enjoy the casino hotels in Atlantic City just like everyone else,” said Rebekah Carmichael, a spokeswoman for Fishman’s office. “It’s certainly part of our mandate that people’s rights are protected.”
Carmichael declined to say whether the review was precipitated by any complaints against the gaming industry. The government may file lawsuits, impose fines or take other punitive action if it finds violations of disabilities laws. Carmichael said the U.S. Attorney’s Office hopes the casinos will voluntarily make corrections if any violations are discovered.
“We’re really trying to work with the industry,” she said. “We don’t know who is in compliance or who is not.”
Bob Griffin, president of the Casino Association of New Jersey, an industry trade group, could not be reached for comment.
In 2008, a New Jersey man filed lawsuits against 10 of Atlantic City’s 11 casinos, claiming they were violating federal and state disabilities laws. Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa, the city’s newest gaming hall, was not sued. At last word, settlements had been reached with at least two casinos, the Atlantic City Hilton Casino Resort and Resorts Casino Hotel.
The lawsuits asked the court to order casinos to fix their facilities to make them more accessible to disabled people. The litigation alleged that gaming tables, keno counters, ticket booths, cash registers and other places in casinos were too high to reach for people using wheelchairs.
Federal law prohibits casinos, hotels, conference centers, resorts and other businesses that are considered places of “public accommodation” from discriminating against disabled people. The Americans With Disabilities Act authorizes the U.S. Justice Department to investigate complaints and conduct periodic reviews to ensure the law is not being violated.