The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission (IRGC) fined four Iowa casinos a total of $80,000 in the first quarter of 2021 for having underage bettors on the gaming floor.
Iowa code violations are a typical agenda item at IRGC meetings. Commissioners assessed $20,000 in penalties during the Jan. 21 and March 4 meetings in Altoona. Iowa law states customers must be at least 21 years or older to gamble at a casino.
The stipulated agreements stem from violations at four Iowa casinos in 2020:
- Wild Rose Casino and Resort, Clinton — June 9 and 13
- Riverside Casino and Golf Resort — Sept. 19
- Isle Casino Hotel, Waterloo — Sept. 27
- Prairie Meadows Racetrack and Casino, Altoona — Oct. 24
Minor entered Wild Rose Clinton 40 times
Wild Rose Casino and Resort will review its policies and procedures after an underage male used an older cousin’s ID 27 times to reach the gaming floor in Clinton.
Security guards in Clinton stopped checking the gambler’s ID after frequent visits. He got past security an additional 13 times as a result.
The IRGC fined Wild Rose because of two occasions when the minor had access to the casino floor and gambled. He was on the gaming floor for 95 minutes on June 9, and on June 13 for 44 minutes.
Wild Rose Entertainment president Tom Timmons attended the January meeting when the IRGC issued its $20,000 administrative penalty.
Timmons said staff caught the underage gambler because hotel housekeeping went to the gaming floor to wipe off the machines on June 13. The young gambler’s aunt is part of the staff and recognized him. She reported her nephew to security the next day. Security started reviewing surveillance footage.
Timmons told the commission that he “tries to use situations where the facility is cited as a teaching situation but was not sure what that would be in this situation,” according to the meeting summary.
“The individual was using his cousin’s identification and they were almost identical twins.”
Wild Rose Clinton worked with the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) to provide a six-hour training course. The casino and the DCI said a sign-in book could assist security efforts with an ID and signature comparison.
Underage gambler got through once — but not twice — at Riverside
Riverside Casino and Golf Resort received a $20,000 penalty in January after an underage gambler spent more than two hours on the gaming floor.
On Sept. 19, the underage customer gambled and consumed an alcoholic beverage while at the Riverside casino.
According to an IRGC summary:
“The individual left the gaming floor and was discovered when he attempted to re-enter the gaming floor. The security officer requested identification and discovered the individual was underage.”
Riverside’s general manager Sharon Haselhoff told the commission the violation “would have been avoided if the security officer at the turnstile had done his job like the second officer did.”
The second officer asked for proper identification. He also asked the underage gambler to lower his the mask for confirmation. Haselhoff told the commission beverage servers have a responsibility to check IDs as well.
Isle Casino employee loses job over underage gambler’s access
The IRGC fined the Isle of Capri Waterloo $20,000 after an underage patron got past the turnstile with two adult companions on Sept. 27.
The investigation suggests the security officers posted at the turnstile failed to request identification, which allowed the individual to enter the gaming floor unchallenged.
The underage individual gambled while on the gaming floor for one hour and 13 minutes.
Isle of Carpi Waterloo general manager Chad Moine said management interviewed the security officer on duty. The security officer “did not have a good reason” for letting the underage gambler onto the gaming floor.
Also, he “admitted all three looked young and knew he should have requested identification,” according to a summary of Moine’s discussion with IRGC members.
“The security officer’s employment has been terminated. He (Moine) also stated the facility has increased security wages across the board; the starting wage is now $13 per hour. They hope it will help the individuals in these positions take their job more seriously.”
Prairie Meadows sees two underage bettors
Prairie Meadows Racetrack and Casino received a $20,000 penalty stemming from underage gambling on Oct. 24.
Two underage males entered the facility with four adult companions. The underage patrons were on the gambling floor for two hours and 45 minutes. Both gambled and came into contact with other facility employees.
The security officer has a 26-year history at Prairie Meadows, according to Jake Hitchcock, the casino’s director of security.
Prairie Meadows provided extended help to guards with Iowa licenses and identification cards as well as out-of-state identification cards.