Prairie Meadows Casino Fined Again for Underage Gambling in Iowa

Posted on: August 29, 2019, 09:39h. 

Last updated on: August 30, 2019, 02:11h.

Prairie Meadows Racetrack and Casino was fined $20,000 — for the second straight year — after Iowa authorities said an underage patron was gambling and drinking alcohol on the gaming floor in Altoona.

The Prairie Meadows Racetrack and Casino was fined $20,000 for a 19-year-old allegedly gambling and drinking alcohol in the Iowa venue. (Image:

On April 6, the unnamed 19-year-old man entered the venue through a hotel entrance. Authorities claim he was never asked for identification and made his way into the casino.

He allegedly spent over an hour on the gaming floor playing slot machines and having a drink. He also cashed a ticket at a cashier’s cage.

Twice, the teenager walked past security officers without getting asked for an ID, officials claim. A third time, he was stopped during the visit from entering the casino when a security guard asked for ID. But the young man could not provide one. He was then asked to leave, officials said.

On July 15, 2018, a 20-year-old woman was allegedly never asked for identification and spent over three hours on the casino floor, according to officials. She was reportedly drinking and gambling.

The underage woman was allegedly not asked for ID by a security guard. She also allegedly cashed in a mutual ticket at a teller’s window. Also, five times she rolled dice at a craps table and later cashed in gaming chips.

Under Iowa law, only adults 21 or older can drink or gamble at a casino. The law says someone under 21 “shall not make or attempt to make a wager on an excursion gambling boat, gambling structure, or in a racetrack enclosure and shall not be allowed on the gaming floor of an excursion gambling boat or gambling structure or in the wagering area … or on the gaming floor of a racetrack enclosure.”

The casino agreed to an administrative penalty of $20,000 on Aug. 22 as a result of the incident involving the 19-year-old man. The casino paid the same amount in January 2019 as a result of the 20-year-old woman’s actions.

Young Adults Attracted to Gambling

When asked for comment on these incidents, the Rev. Richard McGowan, a finance professor at Boston College who has extensively studied gambling habits, told, “Just as any teenager is trying to purchase alcohol illegally, gambling would have the same attraction.

Gambling is a symbol of adulthood and every teenager wants prove they are adults,” McGowan explained. “I would also say with gambling, the teenager thinks it would be [an] easy way of obtaining money.”

To remedy the situation, he said, “clearly the casino needs to have someone at the entrance of the casino to check IDs. That is even more imperative when you [are] serving alcohol.”

Similar Charges in Pennsylvania

Underage gambling has been found at multiple US casinos. For instance, in May, the operator of Rivers Casino Pittsburgh agreed to pay $90,000 in fines following allegations of underage patrons wagering seven times on the venue’s gaming floor during an unspecified time period.

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) assessed the fine against Holdings Acquisitions, Co. Each of the incidents involved individuals under the age of 21.

In one case, a 17-year-old girl wagered at slot machines. The other times, 20-year-olds, men and women, either used machines or played at gaming tables.

The 20-year-olds were also served alcohol. The casino only allows those who are at least 21 to enter the venue.

In April, the Sands Bethlehem Casino Resort in Pennsylvania was fined $120,000 after underage visitors accessed slot machines and table games and consumed alcohol. There were 11 instances of underage violations at the casino.

Seven teenagers aged 18-19, and four 20-year-olds gained access to the gaming floor, and four of them were additionally served alcohol. The incidents occurred between March 2018 through January.