Two of Iowa’s casinos were fined 20-thousand dollars Thursday for allowing an underage person to gamble — and the general manager of one of those establishments says they plan to sue to get the money back. Joe Massa runs the Riverside Casino and Golf Resort. Massa says the 19-year-old woman entered the casino with an I.D. on October 15th, but was later questioned after a security guard became suspicious.
Massa says they contacted the state Department of Criminal Investigation and the woman admitted she was using her sister’s I.D. and the woman admitted she had been to the casino twice before and gamble. Massa says they reported the violation to the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission. Massa says the City of Riverside’s penalty for trespassing is only 200 dollars and the casino plans to sue the woman to send a message.
Massa says minors need to understand they’re violating the law, then he says there are civil penalties, but Massa says the penalties apparently aren’t strong enough to deter people from doing this. Massa was asked by a member of the Racing and Gaming Commission if the Riverside casino has a bigger problem with underage gamblers because of its proximity to the University of Iowa. Massa says it’s not a huge issue, but he says they want to send the message that "we’re not going to tolerate this."
Massa says this wasn’t a mistake, "She knew that she shouldn’t be there and she intentionally used someone else’s I.D. to gain access." Massa says if the casinos have to live by the law, then so should everybody else. Massa says the small fine the woman faces is a "slap on the wrist" compared to what the casino has to pay. Massa says if the law says it’s illegal to gamble then "there ought to be a consequence that is serious enough that it deters people from doing it."
Massa says you can’t ensure that everyone trying to beat the system will be caught, but he says there’s a big difference between a 200 dollar fine and 20-thousand. Massa says its the first violation for the casino. The Diamond Jo casino in Worth County was also fined after a 16-year-old was caught gambling. The manager of the Diamond Jo, Jesus Aviles, says the girl’s parents were in the casino and the girl waited until a customer with a seeing eye dog distracted guards and she snuck in. He says the girl then sat with her parents and was discovered. Aviles says the girl and the parents were both given fines.