Gaming legislation appears to be dead this session, after the recent impasse on video lottery terminal (VLT) legislation in the Missouri Senate.

State Sen. Denny Hoskins (R-Warrensburg) presides over the Missouri Senate on January 19, 2021 (file photo courtesy of Harrison Sweazea of Senate Communications)

Senate President Pro Tem Dave Schatz (R-Sullivan) tells our Sullivan affiliate KTUI that he has numerous concerns with the gaming bill from fellow State Sen. Denny Hoskins (R-Warrensburg). It’s Senate Bill 98.

“I think there’s a hesitancy especially on my part and the Legislature, to expand gaming and allow the types of machines that are out there that are illegal right now, to continue to grow in number,” Schatz says.

A judge in western Missouri’s Platte County ruled in September that two “no chance” slot machines found at a Parkville convenience store violate state gambling laws. That case could end up at the Missouri Supreme Court in Jefferson City.

As for Senator Denny Hoskins, he tells Missourinet that he doesn’t see a path forward for any gaming bill this session.

“Unfortunately, it appears my gaming bill will not pass this session,” says Hoskins. “It would have provided $200 million for our kids’ schools and veterans homes. After last week’s impasse, I look forward to working with my colleagues in the interim to find a solution to bring Sportsbook and regulated VLTs to Missouri.”

The battle over alleged illegal slot machines in Missouri has pitted two powerful GOP state senators who are normally allies on issues: Pro Tem Dave Schatz and Senate Economic Development Committee Chairman Hoskins. They still agree on many legislative issues, but not this one.

The slot machines are found in places like truck stops, convenience stores and restaurants. Schatz says there are about 20,000 of these slot machines in Missouri. He describes them as “a tax on most poor people.”

“If every one of them generated $100 a day, and again that’s somewhat of a conservative figure, but that’s $2 million a day in revenue that’s three-quarters-of a-billion dollars annually that’s going into those machines. It’s not being taxed, it’s not being regulated, nothing is coming back to the state,” says Schatz.

The Missouri Lottery’s executive director has testified that the slot machines are hurting public education in the Show-Me State. She also testified that there’s a major issue with the slot machines along the I-44 corridor, from St. James to Lebanon.

Senator Hoskins says Senate Bill 98 is the result of five years of work and compromise. He says he’s met with any and every party willing to come to the table, to negotiate a regulatory framework for gaming in Missouri.

Hoskins believes Missourians desire safe, legal and fair gaming opportunities.

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