Disputed Slot Win at Indiana’s Ameristar Casino Leads to Police Officer’s Court Case

Posted on: November 17, 2020, 10:39h. 

Last updated on: November 18, 2020, 09:38h.

A Gary, Indiana police officer has a case pending in local court alleging he tried to get someone else to claim his slot machine win because he was behind on child support.

Casino officials claim the officer won a jackpot and owes back child support
A Gary, Indiana police officer has a court case pending over a disputed casino win. Authorities claim he won a jackpot, but allegedly tried to get another man to take the winnings so the officer could avoid the cash going to pay for back child support. (Image: WBEZ)

The Times of Northwest Indiana, a local newspaper, reported Sgt. Charles Lucas was charged with cheating at gaming late last month from the earlier incident at East Chicago, Indiana’s Ameristar Casino.

Gaming property staff claim he had won $1,358 at a slot machine on Jan. 8. But Lucas disputes he won the money, saying another player at the casino that day hit the jackpot.

Employees at the casino also checked Lucas’ records and allege he was behind by $6,676 on child support, according to court documents quoted by the Times.

Casino security additionally reviewed surveillance video which they claim showed that Lucas won. Both Lucas and the unnamed man were ordered to leave the casino after the incident, the news report said.

Following state and federal law, taxes were paid on the win. Then, $1,274 was sent to the Indiana Child Support Bureau.

On Oct. 29, a felony charge was filed against Lucas, the Times reported. But the report also said an arrest warrant in the case was “recalled” this month after a defense motion was filed.

Lucas is a supervisor in the Gary Police Department’s Juvenile Division, the Times said. He has worked at the department for 24 years.

The state law which allows Indiana to seize casino winnings from parents who owe back child support was enacted a decade ago in Indiana. The regulation came after it was revealed that only 58 percent of child support payments were actually collected in the state, the Associated Press reported.

Several States Have Similar Child Support Rules

In 2014, nearby Ohio started a similar regulation, whereby casino gamblers who are behind on their child support need to pay what they owe before claiming any winnings.

Last year, Ohio officials announced they intercepted about $10 million over five years from winning casino gamblers who were behind on child support. The rule applies to licensed casinos in the state if players win over $1,200 on slots, $5,000 at table games, and $600 for high-stakes games, according to Cleveland.com, a regional news site.

In Colorado, the state collected more than $600,000 from casino winnings of those behind on child support. That was the take during the first year its law was on the books after it went into effect in July 2008.

Similar laws were adopted in other states. But casinos in different states have complained the law is too time-consuming to administer. That’s because it takes time to check lists of those who are behind on child support and won jackpots, the AP reported.

New COVID-19 Restrictions at Indiana Casinos

As of this week, casinos in Indiana remain open. But there are tighter restrictions put into effect this month to curb the spread of COVID-19, according to the Princeton Daily Clarion, a local Indiana newspaper. Last week, the Indiana Gaming Commission required gaming properties to designate an area away from the gaming floor for drinking, eating, or smoking, the report adds.

The Ameristar Casino in East Chicago was shuttered in March by the coronavirus pandemic. Indiana was one of the first states in the country to order its casinos closed to help curb the spread of the virus. They reopened in June.