Boardwalk Amusement Operator Gets Ten-Year Ban For Over-inflated Basketballs

By: Follow South Jersey Staff

WILDWOOD, N.J. — Investigators from the Legalized Games of Chance Control Commission found several basketballs used for basketball games in some locations along the boardwalk in Wildwood and North Wildwood over inflated leading to banning an operator from holding an Amusement Games License.

Christine Strothers, who operates games at numerous locations along the boardwalk, was handed a ten-year ban from holding a gaming license, NJ State Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin announced recently. She also received a $15,500 fine for failing to comply with the Amusement Games Licensing Law and accompanying regulations.

In the spring of 2022, Strothers received seven AGLs to operate basketball and quarterback challenge games at several stores and businesses along the boardwalk in Wildwood and North Wildwood, NJ.

In the summer of 2022, investigators for the Commission inspected each game and found several basketballs used for the basketball games inflated to more than the manufacturer’s specifications, some by almost three times the recommended pounds per square inch (PSI) of air. Operators are required to follow the recommended PSI. Failing to do so can unfairly affect a player’s chances of winning, as an overinflated ball can bounce erratically when it hits the rim or backboard of the hoop. 

The issue of over-inflated basketballs has been an area of focus recently for the Commission. Investigators for the Commission issued letters in August 2021 to basketball game operators to let them know that the Commission would be making inspections and issuing violations if the PSI was not correct. 

In addition to using overinflated basketballs, the Commission found Strothers violated the regulations related to display of prizes. One of Strothers’s games had large plush animals in the stand that were not able to be won, and on another occasion, the operator didn’t show the prizes that could be won. In another instance, an investigator was not immediately given change after paying $20 to play a quarterback challenge game that cost $10, as required by N.J.A.C. 13:3-3.4: “upon receipt of currency greater than the charge to play a game, the licensee shall immediately remit the appropriate change to the player.”

“Every person who plays an amusement game in the State of New Jersey deserves a fair shot at winning a prize,” Attorney General Platkin said in a press release from his office. “The Jersey Shore is one of the biggest draws in the State for families looking for fun and recreation and we are making sure those families are not being scammed out of their hard-earned money.”

Investigators for the Commission conduct inspections along boardwalks, in amusement parks, and other entertainment venues, visiting every one of the State’s amusement game licensees at least once a year. In 2022 alone LGCCC investigators conducted 7,000 inspections resulting in approximately $35,000 in penalties and violations.

Consumers who believe that an amusement game is being operated in violation of the Amusement Games Licensing Law are encouraged to file an online complaint. Consumers can also call 1-800-242-5846 to receive a complaint form by mail.

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