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ID checks for more than problem gamblers

3 January 2008

ILLINOIS -- As reported by the Illinois Daily Herald: "...The Illinois State Police and gambling board acknowledged this week that in addition to checking gamblers for being on the casino self-exclusion list, they also are 'randomly' checking patrons for outstanding criminal warrants and for being unregistered sex offenders.

"And they've been quietly doing it for some time -- unbeknown even to the Illinois Gaming Board chairman himself.

"...The gaming board voted in June 2003 to begin cross-referencing the IDs of anyone who looked 30 and under. The IDs were supposed to be referenced with the board's self-exclusion list -- a list of people who believe their gambling was so out of control they need to be legally barred from the casinos. So far, more than 5,000 people have signed up.

"But until 2006, there was no effective way of policing that list except on the off chance that a casino worker would recognize a self-excluded gambler or that a self-excluded gambler would try to cash a check or take home big winnings -- something that requires an ID.

"So the gaming board decided in June 2006 to card those 30 and under -- a move widely viewed as a way to later ease into universal ID checks for all patrons. Late last year, the board took up a proposal to expand the checks to everyone. The move is still under consideration.

"But at December's board meeting, Tom Swoik, director of the Illinois Casino Gaming Association, objected and said he had information that state police already were using the ID checks for more than just the self-exclusion list.

"Swoik said he attended a test run of an ID check for all patrons at Aurora's riverboat and noticed officials there had another list besides the self-exclusion list that they were checking. He asked what it was for but couldn't get a straight answer, he said.

"This week, gaming board spokesman Eugene O'Shea said police officers were checking for sex offenders who have not registered with police as required by law and for patrons who may have outstanding criminal warrants. On Wednesday, Illinois State Police spokesman Master Sgt. Luis Gutierrez confirmed that.

"...Swoik said it's not that the casino industry has any objection to keeping sex offenders or wanted criminals off the boats, but rather that the casino industry is facing an unfair burden of identifying its patrons that other industries don't have to shoulder..."

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