The state gaming commission finds itself in an awkward position – because it regulates legal gambling.
The commission regulates legal and licensed forms of gambling – casinos, horse racing, and charitable bingo. But it gets a lot of calls from people complaining of illegal gambling devices in commercial businesses.
Sorry, says the commission, it has no power to shut down those operations. It has the power to jerk licenses of charitable organizations -and has – but the truck stop or tavern right next door to the bingo hall is out of the Commission’s reach. Commission Enforcement Manager Ernie Raub thinks there are thousands of those devices in Missouri. Fifteen thousand or more, he says.
When the Commission gets a complaint, it contacts local police agencies as well as state regulatory agencies including the Revenue Department which can check on unpaid taxes. Raub says the Commission offers to help with investigations because it has expertise. But he says only about one in seven or one in ten enforcement bodies calls back.
Raub says gambling machines are most likely to be in an area from central Missouri to south of St. Louis and to the Bootheel, with scattered opeators in the Ozarks lake regions and along the Interstates.