February 15, 2023
A Jersey Shore game operator who was caught over-inflating basketballs and displaying prizes that were impossible to win has been banned from business for 10 years and fined $15,500 for violating the state's amusement games licensing law.
Christine Strothers received seven licenses to operate basketball and quarterback challenge games on the boardwalks in Wildwood and North Wildwood last year. Inspectors found some basketballs had up to three times the amount of recommended air, Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin said.
Game operators are required to follow manufacturer inflation recommendations; failing to do so decreases a player's chance to win, because basketballs may bounce off the backboard or rim unevenly.
The state's Legalized Games of Chance Control Commission has sought to crack down on over-inflated basketballs in recent years. In 2021, all basketball game operators were informed that they would be fined if their balls were not inflated properly upon inspection.
"Every person who plays an amusement game in the state of New Jersey deserves a fair shot at winning a prize," Platkin said. "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."
Strothers also violated regulations on displaying prizes, Platkin said. One of her games showcased stuffed animals that could not be won, and, on another occasion, she failed to display any prizes that could be won, investigators said. Another time, an undercover investigator allegedly did not immediately receive change after paying $20 to play a quarterback challenge game. It cost $10.
"Investigators are always on the lookout to ensure a safe and fair experience for everyone who plays an amusement game on the boardwalk," said Cari Fais, acting director of Consumer Affairs. "Amusement game operators who aren't playing by the rules spoil the fun for everyone, and they will be held accountable."
State inspectors visit each of amusement game licensee at least once each year. Anyone who suspects an amusement game is in violation of state regulations can file a complaint online.