If you are like most people, you probably have not heard about the Ocean Downs casino in Berlin, Maryland. The short version is there was a woman who, having run out of baby formula while playing at the casino, decided to breastfeed her baby. In its apparent rigidity to enforce the underage rules, the mother was shown the door – with the baby.
There are a number of perspectives on this issue, so hopefully this article will cover the most egregious ones. It should be noted that the reason the story went viral is because a support group, Breastfeeding Mama Talk, shared it online.
First view to consider is that of the casino’s interest. Their position according the Alanna Panas, the offending mother was, “They told me that Lilly was a security threat.” Officially, the management had no comment on the situation. It is easy to see why.
While is possible that the baby had a loaded diaper, it but could not be proven. But it is more likely that security didn’t really know what to do about this situation with out getting covered in white. The easiest solution was simply to remove the offending party and take their coffee black from there on out.
In defense of the casino, it has very strict rules in which it operates under. These are the days of lawsuits for any offense, regardless how minuscule, from people who find opportunity to make a buck preying on the sympathies of the law or a jury. Casinos are full of money, so it is understandable they will be strict enforcers of the rules, without exception.
Once the casino loses a lawsuit, it will become a target for every manipulator and scammer trying to hit 21 in a court of law. A variation of this without potential legal entanglements is making one exception can lead to a flurry of other requests for an exception.
A second view to consider is that of the mother. She said she wasn’t on the playing floor, but in the corner of an empty lobby when the offending act occurred. So it wasn’t as if she was playing with one hand and feeding the baby with the other. No potential exposure to smokers or salty language from losing players.
She was waiting for a friend to come with her car keys where a backup bottle of milk was stashed. During the wait, the baby continued to cry, so she did the motherly thing.
Maryland law allows breastfeeding in most public and private places. Casinos are funded by taxpayer’s money, so it seems only right for her to stake her claim in this moment of need. There is no indication of anyone in the casino being offended with her actions.
It seems the simplest solution would have been for security to find an appropriate place for this act of kindness to take place and not try to enforce a rule based on the baby being a security risk. It is highly unlikely that there would follow a swarm of mothers heading to the Ocean Downs casino to breastfeed their babies.
If there is a lesson to be learned from all of this, it is that the reputation’s are fickle so train and staff right. This was not a newsworthy event and never should have gotten the press that it did. It is difficult to see how the casino can win in this situation at all. It is either going to be perceived as an anti-mother, anti-breastfeeding, place to be, or a place where rules are strictly enforced to the point of being overzealous and unwelcoming. An apology by the casino will either be perceived as caving in to social pressure or an admission that its security team had overreacted… “A security threat???”
This is one of the few times the house will lose no matter how they bet, guaranteed.