Are games of chance fun and fair at the boardwalk?
The "Safe Summer 2016" kickoff session Friday at Jenkinson's Boardwalk in Point Pleasant Beach has investigators from around the state making sure merchants are in compliance with game fairness, pricing, scanning, and other consumer safety check-ins.
More than 4,000 complaints were handled in Ocean County last year by the Office of Consumer Affairs and while complaints trend down, the annual inspection takes place to ensure all is fair when playing games of chance.
"We do see a lot of violations and that's why were out here, to try and bring them to their (merchants) attention," said Steve Scaturro, Ocean County Director of Consumer Affairs and Weights & Measures. "To get them to voluntarily correct them. If they're advised and they don't do it, then shame on them."
Scaturro's office is joined by Investigators from The Division of Consumer Affairs Office, Office of Consumer Protection, The Legalized Games of Chance Control Commission, and Ocean County Health Department.
While the visit is an information meeting for such reasons as rides, scales and retail merchants, Scaturro adds they will come back in about two weeks on any warnings they've given or else 'enforcement action' will take place.
"We have a number of scales on the boardwalk that must be tested on an annual basis," said Scaturro who adds they will soon visit Seaside Heights and Seaside Park. "They have to register with us and if they don't have a registration, we're going to register them on site. We could red tag the scales because if they're off, people are getting cheated on the value amounts."
The end goal is making sure games being played and items being sold are both fair and sanitary for consumers.
So how much pressure is on the merchants or game operators to ensure everything is okay across the Jersey Shore?
Despite the presence of Investigators, Jenkinson's Boardwalk Marketing Director Toby Wolf says they didn't feel any added pressure because for the most part it's just business as usual.
"That's one of the things we pride ourselves on overall is providing a straight, narrow business," said Wolf. "That just provides a great entertainment and fun experience for the families that come visit us."
She adds they run their business the same way whether or not the inspectors are present.
"That's the key to running a good business," said Wolf. "To make sure that your always doing a good job and making sure your consistent and playing by the book."
Both sides seem to agree what happens on the boardwalk should be in the best interest of the consumer, and Scaturro says if all goes well with inspections at the Shore the end goal is simple.
"(That) We've been out here, inspected it, it's safe, come on down to Ocean County, come on out to the boardwalks" said Scaturro. "Patronize the merchants that are here because they are doing a good job."
But the rules still apply and Scaturro says all the merchandise must be marked with a price tag visible for all to see.
Scaturro adds if you see something you feel needs to be corrected on a possible violation, you can call the Ocean County office of Consumer Affairs at 732-929-2105.
With summer temperatures coming before the official first day of the season, many people are heading down to the shore to get tan on the beach or win a prize on the boardwalk.
"We really work very, very hard here," said Wolf. "To make sure we can give families a really good, fun, pleasurable experience."
She adds all games are winnable, many of which have guaranteed winners so kids can go home with a smile and a prize.
"That's one of the things we love," said Wolf. "To make sure that when you see that kid come out and have that big prize...you can't duplicate having the smile on a kids face when they leave."