A Missouri House committee will hold its fourth hearing about alleged illegal slot machines on Thursday at the Statehouse in Jefferson City.
House Special Interim Committee on Gaming Chairman Dan Shaul, R-Imperial, tells Missourinet he believes this issue will end up at the Missouri Supreme Court, because of powerful interests on both sides.
“There’s going to be people that make a lot of money one way or the other, and it’s a lot of protection and the cost of going to the (Missouri) Supreme Court would be certainly less than what they would perceive would be won or lost through this process,” Shaul says.
He also believes the issue will be litigated in court for three or four years.
Alleged illegal slot machines can be found in bars, restaurants, gas stations and convenience stores. The number of complaints the Missouri State Highway Patrol has received about illegal gambling has almost quadrupled, from 39 in 2018 to 145 this year.
Chairman Shaul compares the growing problem of alleged illegal slots to a different issue the Missouri Department of Conservation has dealt with.
“Feral hogs weren’t a problem (in Missouri) ten years ago, we just had a little problem. Well, is this going to become the next feral hog issue in the state,” says Shaul.
The Highway Patrol has testified it only has two full-time investigators to handle illegal gambling complaints and that it’s had to pull investigators from other areas to assist.
The House Special Interim Committee on Gaming plans its fourth hearing Thursday at noon about slot machines, which are officially called “video lottery terminals.” The committee will also hear testimony about sports betting and fantasy sports.
The Missouri Prosecutors Association says the first criminal case in the state involving alleged illegal slots will go to trial in December in western Missouri’s Platte County.
The Missouri Gaming Commission has testified that any illegal gaming machines used in Missouri negatively impact casinos and the state Lottery, reducing taxes and funding for education and veterans.
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