After the first $500 million of fines for violations by Black Oak and other Atlantic City casinos in recent years, a new federal civil rights investigation will be launched, according to an announcement Tuesday from the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division.
The $500-million fine is part of a $10-billion settlement the department announced in September with Black Oak in connection with the 2016 death of a man who was stung by a scorpion in the casino’s indoor play area, which was in violation of the city’s fire-safety code.
It also is a significant step forward for the department in a lawsuit brought by Black Acres residents against Atlantic City, Atlantic City Gaming, the city of Atlantic City and Atlantic City’s then-president, James B. Stavroche.
“The settlement is a positive step forward in resolving the wrongful conduct,” said Lyle Swenson, a partner with the law firm of Swenson & Swenson in Washington, D.C. The settlement is the latest step in the department’s efforts to hold companies accountable for violating the federal Fair Labor Standards Act.
The department also said in a statement that the $500 billion settlement with Black Acre residents, along with the $10 billion in civil penalties that have already been imposed on the companies, “demonstrates the need to hold all of the largest casino operators accountable for their failure to prevent injuries from occurring at casino facilities.”
The city of Las Vegas has also been fined $2 million, but it has not paid a penalty, the department said.
In addition, Atlantic County Sheriff Tom Nocco said in an interview Tuesday that the county is continuing to monitor the progress of the new federal investigation.
The Justice Department announced the investigation in October, saying it had determined that Atlantic City had failed to properly enforce its fire-fighting rules.
A settlement was reached in April with Black Oaks, after which the company agreed to pay $150 million in fines.
The new settlement comes a year after a Justice Department report found that Atlantic County had violated the Fair Labor Act by failing to properly supervise workers.
Atlantic City has since hired more than 1,300 new employees and is working to improve its fire safety standards.
In September, the company announced that it was expanding the size of its indoor playing area to accommodate a second scorpion sting, which is also in violation.
The scorpion that stung the man in 2016 was an indoor scorpion, not an outdoor one, and the man was injured after the scorpion caught him in the throat.
The city said it is continuing with the indoor scorpions.
Atlantic County said in October that it has more than $1 billion in insurance for the $2.5 million that Black Acorns settlement is expected to bring.
The company has also agreed to invest $200 million to repair damage to its indoor facilities, including to an escalator that is located at the entrance to the indoor play areas, and to add a ventilation system that will allow the city to better vent air.
Atlantic and Atlantic County also agreed in October to implement an internal investigation that will investigate complaints that the casino had made to the city about scorpions and other animals in the indoor areas.
The county also agreed that the city will reimburse Atlantic for the costs of the investigation.
A spokesman for Black Acrees said Tuesday that Black Oak will not be able to comment on the new settlement.