Arrests rare, but SL police don't covet casino boat-type issues
With gambling in the headlines across the state this season, Storm Lake Police are satisfied that the city isn't getting caught up in efforts to expand legalized gambling, or in the high-profile criminal cases that have stunned central Iowa.
In fact, annual reports from the Storm Lake Police show not a single arrest for illegal gambling in the city, adult or juvenile, in the past five years.
"Gambling hasn't seemed to be a big problem in Storm Lake. You do have some betting going on, usually having to do with sports, but what people may not realize is that certain types of gambling are being done legally," said Police Captain Bob Swanson.
A few local businesses hold legalized gambling licenses. These allow for regulated sports pools and competitive card playing within strict wager limits.
Often, the public isn't aware of regulations involving their gambling, Swanson noted.
It isn't illegal to play in a friendly game of poker in the family basement, for example, but it would be a violation of the law to have more than $50 in wagers on the table at a given time, or to allow a player to lose more than $50 per 24 hour period. It isn't illegal to have an office pool on the World Series, but it can be illegal to have a pot in excess of $500, or a chance that sells for more than $5.
While gambling arrests are rare in the city, it isn't a problem that is ignored.
"If we have information that gambling is taking place illegally, we will take it seriously and we will investigate it," Swanson said.
It's a crime that is seldom reported. "People don't talk about it much. It's only when you get a person who has gotten in trouble losing a large amount of money in a gambling operation that they may turn to police, and then the investigation starts to reveal how that gambling network happens," he said.