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State Raises Ante on Casino Security

More Agents Are Assigned to Gambling Industry Than Criminal Investigations

Associated Press

Dubuque Telegraph Herald

May 31, 2006

[Note: This material is copyright by the Dubuque Telegraph Herald, and is reproduced here as a matter of "fair use" for non-commercial, educational purposes only. Any other use may require the prior approval of the Dubuque Telegraph Herald.]

DES MOINES (AP) - The Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation is using more of its resources on casinos, with more agents working on gambling than on general crime cases.

On 11 riverboats and three racetrack casinos, the DCI has 83 agents - including 32 hired since December - and plans to add about 20 more gambling-related posts this summer and fall.

The increase comes as the agency fills vacancies and handles the openings of a handful of newly licensed casinos, said Assistant DCI Director Joe Diaz, who oversees gambling-related law enforcement.

"Everybody that we are hiring now goes straight to the Gaming Bureau," he said. "Those are now our entry-level positions."

The Gaming Bureau already is much larger than the DCI's general criminal investigation unit, which has 49 agents and supervisors handling homicides, sexual assaults and other major felonies.

Diaz said the DCI still places a high priority on solving major crimes - and noted the addition in recent years of a three-person computer forensics unit and a six-person Sex Offender
Registry unit. He also said other DCI agents work full time on homeland security and in other areas.

Additional agents assigned to casinos around the state have helped the DCI to improve its response to major crimes, Diaz said, because agents can be used to back up the forces at local crime scenes. No agents are being diverted from major crime cases to work at casinos, he said.

Gambling opponents say the DCI's attention to casinos underscores the links between crime and gambling.

"What other industry or business of any kind needs that kind of scrutiny by law enforcement people in the state of Iowa?" said gambling critic Robert Miller, a Muscatine businessman and president of the Truth About Gambling Foundation. "That kind of tells you something right there."