Casino operators had better toe the line

Perhaps operators of the still-new Horseshoe Casino in Cleveland were gambling state officials would not notice violations of Ohio law. Or it may be, in the hustle and bustle of dealing with crowds of customers, casino personnel simply did not pay enough attention to the rulebook.

Whatever the reason, the casino is going to pay dearly – as it should.

Members of the Ohio Casino Control Commission agreed last week to fine the Cleveland facility $180,000 for violating several state gambling rules. In January, the Horseshoe was fined $15,000 for another violation.

Among infractions cited in this week’s action were that the casino replaced state-approved gambling chips with quarters and it encouraged unlicensed employees to enter restricted areas. Several other failures also were listed.

It took gambling interests several years to convince Buckeye State voters and officials to take the plunge into full-scale casino gambling. When that occurred, it was only after Ohioans had been assured repeatedly strict rules would be established and enforced. Clearly, at least some of those involved viewed those as throwaway promises.

Fortunately, members of the casino commission seem to be taking their jobs seriously.

Some of the rules may not seem to casino officials and employees to be necessary. For example, one of the violations cited by the commission was that gambling machines were shipped from Cleveland to the Horseshoe Casino in Cincinnati without removing computer software. But the rule is important and is meant to prevent tampering with the programming for gambling machines.

It does not really matter whether casino operators consider the rules important or whether complying with them is an inconvenience. All that matters is obeying the law.

Casino commission members were right to come down hard on the Cleveland facility. They should adhere to the same policy in dealing with other casinos, too.