Late last week, lawmakers in Missouri attended the first meeting hosted by the House Special Interim Committee on Gaming. The group was created to look at the gambling industry of the state and what changes can be made to create a more successful industry. During the meeting, the focus remained not only what can be added, but what is currently taking place regarding illegal slot machines. David Grothaus, the state Gaming Commission executive director hosted a presentation on the matter.
The illegal slot machines fall under what is being called a gray area. The terminals require players to insert money and choose a game, then place a wager. The machines are found at many types of businesses, including convenience stores and gas stations.
Early this year, the commission decided to vote to call the slot-style machines gambling devices. The games are now legal in casinos but not in other venues. There are currently 13 casinos in the state.
The problem with the illegal machines is policing. The Gaming Commission only has the authority to police venues that have a bingo license. The Department of Public Safety also has no authority to seize the machines. County prosecutors are the only ones who can take action against the illegal games.
According to lawmakers, the illegal machines are everywhere. Now is the time to figure out what to do about it. According to Grothaus, the state needs to have a focused solution for the slot machines on how to remove them.
Right now, the machines are impacting the casino in a negative manner. This means less money for veterans and education needs of the state. The hearing that took place last week is just one of several to be hosted in an effort to give lawmakers time to review the goings-on in the state regarding the gambling industry.
In the Future
More hearings will take place in September and into October to cover additional gambling issues. The next meeting in early September will host discussions regarding the state Lottery. By October, enforcement and prosecution will be covered as well as sports betting.
The state wants to expand their offerings as well as gain a stronghold over the illegal gambling games. With no prosecution abilities regarding the slot machines, additional plans will have to be made such as working with local law enforcement.
With the games available in many areas throughout the state, it will take a massive effort in order to remove the machines from operation. With several viewpoints on the matter, it is going to take time and compromise to be able to come up with a solution that works for everyone involved.
It will be interesting to see how these upcoming meetings pan out and if the state comes up with solid plans as to how they will tackle the illegal games as well as deal with other issues regarding the gambling industry, including sports betting.