Why Is Missouri Going After “Illegal” Slot Machines?


A lawsuit regarding gaming terminals from 2018 is now putting the legality of gambling machines in Missouri in question.

Integrity Gaming’s “Illegal” Terminals

Missouri is stepping up its efforts against gambling terminals in the state. A new measure was discussed by lawmakers on June 24, making it one of the latest anti-gambling laws to date – if successfully passed –  in the United States.

Meanwhile, the Missouri Lottery Commission has given the go-ahead to gambling expansion. However, not everyone in the state agrees with plans that encourage the further growth of the state’s gaming segment.

One specific legal thorn has persisted. A Western Missouri prosecutor, Eric Zahand, has launched a lawsuit against Integrity Gaming LLC, a Kansas company. The filing stipulated that the company had illegally placed machines at two Parkville convenience stores. Responding to this, the police removed the machines from the properties and launched a probe into the owners.

Responding to accusations, the store owners said that the machines had been pre-approved by Integrity Gaming. Similar to slot machines, the devices installed by the company let players stake money and then cash their winnings based on successful combinations of numbers, letters and other symbols.

Why Zahand’s Lawsuit Matters?

 The case originated in 2018, and according to some, this has been one of the main propellers of tighter anti-gambling legislation ever since, a point of view shared by the majority of lawmakers in the state. This particular case also prompted investigators to determine whether any of the games on the premise relied on skill of any form.

Investigators concluded that all outcomes were randomized and there was no skill element in any of the machines installed by Integrity Gaming. Yet, a court hasn’t ruled and a decision is expected in December, 2019.

This case will be used as the basis of further legislation that will determine whether slot machines and other gambling terminals are allowed form of entertainment on the territory of Missouri.

What Do Lawmakers Think?

Missouri lawmakers haven’t been completely opposed against gambling. In May, 2018, the federal ban on sports betting known as PASPA was defeated by the U.S. Supreme Court, opening up fresh revenue opportunities for states.

Missouri has been one of the places actively debating whether to allow betting on its territory, including a controversial provision known as “integrity fee”. Admittedly, legislators have been interested in the fate of gambling terminals.

With the illegal machines case being brought to public attention, lawmakers would want to be seen as determined rather than complacent with unauthorized gambling activities.

The Lottery Commission has said that one way to address the problem of illegal gambling, or to put it mildly, unauthorized gambling activities, would be by replacing all such terminals with “legal” ones.

At the same time, the Missouri Lottery Commission has been calling for being included into any further expansion efforts designed to boost revenue for the organization. Here is what Lottery Chief Scheve Reardon had to say:

We know that this will impact our sales in the future. It’s going to drastically affect the money that’s being returned to education.

Mr. Reardon’s attempts to boost the lottery’s financial performance comes at a time when prominent lawmakers in both the House and the Senate are opposed to expanding gaming further.

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