n 2020, a year in which casinos were closed a third of the year due to the coronavirus pandemic, 21 children were left abandoned in vehicles at casinos in Pennsylvania, and at nearly every monthly Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) meeting someone is registered on the involuntary exclusion list for that reason.
PGCB Commissioner Sean Logan has urged the board and casinos to take action especially since, in most cases, a casino patron, and not security, finds the child.
“For the life of me, I can’t see how someone leaves their kid or kids in a car unattended to go into a casino. It obviously hasn’t been curtailed. It always seems like it’s 20, 30, 40 minutes. A whole hell of a lot of bad can happen in that time,” he said, according to a report by PlayPennsylvania.
Kids Quest has twenty locations across the country at casinos including Wind Creek in Bethlehem.
In 2010, representatives from the Minnesota-based Kids Quest began contacting Pennsylvania casinos about bringing hourly child care to their casinos. Ann Zenor, director of development for Kids Quest, said they saw a pattern of incidents at certain casino properties in Pennsylvania and reached out to casino executives, department leadership, and public relations officials. In addition, Kids Quest sent inquiries to some state legislators.
“We didn’t gain much traction until we were contacted by Bob DeSalvio, (president of Sands Bethlehem, now Wind Creek). As a veteran in the gaming industry, Bob was familiar with our concepts and quickly put a contract in place to offer our services to their casino guests,” Zenor commented, reports PlayPennsylvania.
Wind Creek Casino’s Executive Vice President and General Manager Kathy McCracken, said: “We always felt that it was a great answer for our customers. If you come and stay for a weekend and need a babysitting service, it’s right there. If you want to go to dinner and a show, you can bring your child to Kids Quest. From the beginning when they approached us, it made so much sense. It’s a really common-sense approach to how you can handle things.”
The first and only Kids Quest/Cyber Quest opened in Pennsylvania in June 2014. There are none in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The only other Kids Quest on the East Coast is at Mohegan Sun in Connecticut.
At Wind Creek, there is a shared lobby for hourly care check-ins for children ages 6 weeks through 12-years-old at Kids Quest. Public access to the family-friendly Cyber Quest arcade is next door, where visitors can play arcade games and win prizes.
Each Kids Quest is independently owned and operated. Potential employees are subject to criminal background checks and drug tests, and employees trained in CPR and first aid are on duty at all times.
However, there have been still been instances where a child is left in a car at Wind Creek Casino.
Zenor added: “We feel our existence on-property is definitely a mitigating factor. Unfortunately, having a Kids Quest on the property is no guarantee that the parent/adult will elect to check their children in with us, but we find that when given the option, they choose to utilize our services. Our mission is to keep minors safe and engaged in fun, while adults explore our host properties, worry-free. To that end, we do our best to keep our services affordable and plan great activities and events that children will enjoy.”