Five times this summer, Bensalem police have been called to investigate reports that unattended children were sitting in cars outside the Parx Casino while their parents gambled inside.
Sharon Balek, 35, of Philadelphia, is the latest case, police said.
Balek was charged Thursday with child endangerment for leaving her daughters, 8 and 15, in the parking lot Aug. 1 while she played the slot machines - for six hours.
The teenager - stuck with a nonworking cell phone - flagged down a passerby about 12:30 a.m. and borrowed a phone to call her father.
"We've had calls through the years with kids left in shopping centers, but what's making this hot is that we've had five in just a two-month period," said Fred Harran, public safety director in Bensalem. "The gambling addiction, the glitter of it all - people go in to gamble and forget the kids. I just don't get it."
Balek could not be reached for comment. She was charged after police reviewed her player's card record and footage from casino surveillance cameras.
That night, Balek told police that she lost track of time, Harran said. He called that a "ridiculous" excuse that is routine in such cases.
Two other parents have been charged this summer with leaving their children unattended at Parx, Harran said.
In June, Donald Waige, 59, of Philadelphia, was charged with leaving his 15-month-old son inside his running Nissan Altima while he went inside to gamble, according to police records. Waige was in the casino for over three hours, according to an affidavit.
Waige could not be reached for comment.
In July, police charged the parent of an 11-year-old who remained unattended in a parked car until 1 a.m., Harran said.
In the two remaining cases, no one was charged, Harran said. In one case, a 14-year-old watched over two toddlers for 30 minutes before the parent returned, Harran said. In the other, the family departed before police arrived, he said.
Carrie Nork-Minelli, a Parx spokeswoman, said she could not comment on the specific cases. The casino has a no-tolerance policy for such incidents, she said, and works closely with police when they occur.