Audit: La. gaming regulation can be improved

AP News
Posted: Dec 14, 2009 12:56 PM

A report from the state Legislative Auditor says there is room for improvement in the way Louisiana State Police regulate legalized gambling.

The audit was requested by the state police commander, Mike Edmonson.

The report was released Monday. Among its findings: 13 percent of video poker licensees have not had a compliance inspection; not all video-poker truck stops are being audited to make sure they meet fuel sales requirements; and there is sometimes inconsistency in enforcement of regulations.

State police said in a response that they agreed with some of the findings and are taking steps to improve. They took issue with some of the findings, saying decisions were based on how best to use limited personnel to limit risks of violations.

For instance, the audit said state police conducted tests on only 8 percent of slot machines at casinos in 2008 to make sure the machines were communicating with monitoring systems. The rest of the testing was done by casinos themselves or the casinos' contractors.

State police noted that the documentation's of the casino's tests are reviewed and that casinos or the contractors doing the tests must meet suitability requirements.

The audit noted that reviews of fuel sales at truck stops are important because the number of slot machines a truck stop can have is based on the amount of fuel sold.

State police "decided that auditing all truck stops was not an effective allocation of resources and therefore focused its resources on those truck stops closest to the minimum fuel sales," the report said.

As for the finding that 13 percent of video poker licensees have not had a compliance inspection, state police responded that the figure included device owners who have warehouses with offline machines. State police said more than 95 percent of licensed video poker establishments were inspected.

The legislative audit said inconsistency of enforcement was sometimes a problem, noting as an example that state police issued 13 fines for failing to display a license at video poker establishments, but only issued warnings in 20 cases.

State police said that they last year implemented a policy and procedure manual and are reviewing procedures to assure consistency.

A lack of personnel, and the loss of manpower when troopers get transfers or promotions to other divisions were noted in the report. A solution suggested in the audit and agreed to by state police was the possible hiring of more civilians to perform regulatory tasks.