New Jersey boardwalk game operator banned for deflategate scheme

A person plays an amusement game during the Zapote Festival in Zapote, Costa Rica, in January. File Photo by Jeffrey Arguedas/EPA-EFE
A person plays an amusement game during the Zapote Festival in Zapote, Costa Rica, in January. File Photo by Jeffrey Arguedas/EPA-EFE

Feb. 18 (UPI) -- The operator of several popular boardwalk games down the Jersey Shore has been banned for scamming beachgoers out of prizes, the state's Attorney General Matthew Platkin announced.

Christine Strothers, the woman behind the deflategate scheme, operated basketball challenge games at beachfront boardwalks in Wildwood and North Wildwood, Platkin said in a statement .


The state had granted Strothers seven Amusement Games Licenses last spring to operate basketball and quarterback challenge games at several locations along the boardwalk.

Investigators with the Legalized Games of Chance Control Commission, a little-known state authority tasked with inspecting such games for fairness, visited Strothers' locations last summer.

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Michael Bianco, an investigator with the commission, found several basketballs that were inflated to nearly three times the recommended pounds-per-square-inch of air recommended by the manufacturer at one of the locations on June 23. Operators are required to follow the recommended PSI.

"Failing to do so can unfairly affect a player's chances of winning, as an overinflated ball can bounce erratically when it hits the rim or backboard of the hoop," Platkin's office said in the news release.

Bianco then inspected two other locations in July, officials said in the administrative order instituting the ban.


At one of those locations, Bianco found three balls for the basketball game that were all inflated beyond the recommended PSI.

There were two game balls inflated beyond the recommended PSI at the second location. At that location, Bianco also found that Strothers had displayed large plush animals that were not available as prizes and not labeled as such, also in violation of her license.

During a subsequent inspection in August, workers at the basketball game stand quickly tried to hide ten balls from Paul Johnson -- a second investigator sent to inspect the game at one of the locations.

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Six of those balls were found to be inflated beyond the recommended PSI.

Investigators returned several more times to inspect game balls after the repeat offenses and found over-inflated game balls or other violations in each of those visits, according to the documents.

The commission issued the judgment after Strothers did not appear at a required hearing.

"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' ban will last for ten years and she has also been ordered to pay a $15,500 fine. She declined to commen t to The New York Times.

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