A 29-year-old Eden Prairie man admitted to police that he'd left his 17-month-old son alone in his vehicle for several hours in freezing temperatures while he gambled at Mystic Lake Casino, according to court documents.

Nicholas M. Anderson was charged last week in Scott County District Court with neglect or endangerment of a child, a gross misdemeanor. His first court appearance is Tuesday.

The charges said Prior Lake police were sent to the casino about 2:15 p.m. Nov. 21 after a casino patron heard the child crying. Officers broke into the vehicle to get the boy, who was dressed in a onesie and covered with a blanket in a car seat. The temperature outside at the time was about 25 degrees. Surveillance video showed the vehicle arriving at Mystic Lake at 12:30 p.m.

Anderson told police that the child's mother didn't know that he took their son to the casino. He "admitted he has struggled since being discharged from the military, and he admitted he has a gambling problem," the complaint said.

Anderson does not appear to have a criminal history, according to state court records.

Pat Pheifer