Police say a man banned from Iowa’s Isle Casino Hotel Bettendorf wrongly gained access to the property last Friday and tried to exchange a counterfeit bill with the cashier cage.
Police say 37-year-old Mark Hampton, a local Bettendorf resident, entered Isle Casino shortly before 6:30 pm CDT on September 2. Hampton, police contend, proceeded to the casino’s cage where he attempted to receive approximately $100 in exchange for a foreign currency bill he claimed was worth that amount.
The affidavit says the defendant “attempted to exchange the counterfeit bill for currency at the exchange within the casino.” After casino cashiers denied the transaction and confiscated the phony bill, Hampton tried to exit the property but was detained by police.
Hampton admitted he was aware that his privileges to gamble inside the casino had been revoked. But, in need of cash, he claimed he entered the casino only to exchange the foreign currency, which he maintained to authorities was legitimate.
Hampton has a lengthy criminal record in Iowa. An online court search turned up 30 cases with him named as a defendant.
In 2021, the Isle Casino, fed up with Hampton’s shenanigans, excluded him from further access to the gaming floor. His ban went into effect in July 2021.
Hampton’s explanation for seeking to exchange his claimed legitimate foreign bill for $100 at the Isle Casino raised eyebrows among casino security and local law enforcement. Most banks and credit unions offer foreign currency exchange services based on current exchange rates. Casino cashier cages do too, but typically for a hefty fee.
The Isle Casino is operated by Caesars Entertainment. The 35K square-foot former riverboat has 935 slot machines, 19 table games, and a Caesars Sportsbook. The resort features more than 500 hotel rooms, three restaurants, and a 1,700-seat theater.
Earlier this year, the casino became one of the beneficiaries of a recently passed two-year moratorium on new casinos in the state. The bill, signed by Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) in June, blocked a gaming development in Cedar Rapids some 70 miles northwest of Isle Casino.
Supporters of the moratorium argued that the halt in new gaming licenses will allow the current operators to experience a controlled and stable gaming market in wake of the pandemic and new commercial casinos opening in neighboring Nebraska.
Felony Charge Filed
After reviewing the affidavit against Hampton, state prosecutors representing Scott County filed a felony forgery charge in connection with his currency exchange scheme. Additional charges, including trespassing, could be filed later.
Hampton was released from the Scott County Jail on his own recognizance and is due in court for a preliminary hearing on September 23.
A person found guilty of a Class D felony, such as the one facing Hampton, can be punished with up to five years in prison and a fine upwards of $10K plus interest and court costs.
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