The Missouri Gaming Commission testified Thursday in Jefferson City that the state needs a coordinated effort to stop illegal slot machines.

Missouri House Special Interim Committee on Gaming Chairman Rep. Dan Shaul, R-Imperial, speaks on August 22, 2019 in Jefferson City (photo courtesy of Tim Bommel at House Communications)

Gaming Commission Executive Director David Grothaus testified before the House Special Interim Committee on Gaming. The issue of illegal slot machines dominated most of the two-hour hearing.

“We’re trying to coordinate efforts among law enforcement and prosecutors, trying to educate prosecutors on how to prosecute those cases,” Grothaus says.

Illegal slot machines are found in places like bars, restaurants, gas stations and convenience stores. Grothaus tells lawmakers that there’s one pending criminal case in western Missouri’s Platte County, in the Kansas City area.

Grothaus tells lawmakers that the Gaming Commission is providing assistance to law enforcement. He says what the state needs “is a very focused effort” on the illegal slot machines.

Mr. Grothaus testifies that any illegal gaming machines used in Missouri negatively impact casinos and the state Lottery, reducing taxes and funding for education and veterans. That grabbed the attention of committee chairman State Rep. Dan Shaul, R-Imperial.

“These illegal (slot) machines, they’re everywhere,” Shaul tells Grothaus. “And I think it is probably hard to put a number on it, because they continue to grow everyday. I have several of them in my district.”

Shaul says the illegal machines “are everywhere” in the state and in his district in eastern Missouri’s Jefferson County. Chairman Shaul tells Grothaus it’s a problem.

“Because the people are very clear that they want regulated gaming,” says Shaul. “And they want to make sure when they go to take part in these games that they’re fair.”

Shaul tells Missourinet that he doesn’t want to hurt fraternal organizations, emphasizing that he’s a veteran.

Chairman Shaul emphasizes that no decisions have been made by the committee, and he describes the hearing as an “educational process.”

Meantime, a representative from Missouri’s 13 riverboat casinos also testified, urging the Gaming Commission to shut down all of the illegal slot machines in Missouri. That representative is also calling for criminal prosecutions.

The state’s 13 licensed riverboat casinos have a combined total of about 16,000 slot machines, Grothaus testifies.

Grothaus also testifies that the Gaming Commission has a memorandum of understanding with the Missouri State Highway Patrol. He says state troopers are stationed on the 13 casinos, and perform duties such as regulatory investigations.

Click here to listen to Brian Hauswirth’s full interview with House Special Interim Committee on Gaming Chairman Rep. Dan Shaul, R-Imperial, which was recorded on August 22, 2019 at the Statehouse in Jefferson City:

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