A state senator from western Missouri who chairs the Senate Economic Development Committee wants to see video lottery terminals (VLT’s) taxed and regulated in 2022, predicting it would raise millions of dollars for education.

State Sen. Denny Hoskins (R-Warrensburg) speaks on the Missouri Senate floor in Jefferson City on January 6, 2021 (file photo courtesy of Harrison Sweazea at Senate Communications)

Video lottery terminals are commonly referred to as slot machines. State Sen. Denny Hoskins (R-Warrensburg) traveled to Chicago for last week’s National Council of Legislators from Gaming States conference. Senator Hoskins says slot machines were a discussion issue in Chicago, and he plans to pre-file legislation in December.

“Makes sure that if it says you’re going to win one out of every 50 times that, in fact, that (slot) machine is being checked to make sure that you as the customer are actually going to win one out of every 50 times,” Hoskins says.

Hoskins predicts his slot machine legislation would raise about $250 million annually for K-12 education and for veterans homes. The slot machines are located in places like truck stops, convenience stores and bars.

A judge in western Missouri’s Platte County has ruled 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. Hoskins says he looks forward to a final court decision.

He says slot machines have been successful in the Land of Lincoln.

“Currently in the state of Illinois, there’s about 8,000 locations that have video lottery terminals. And they have about 40,000 machines in the state of Illinois. That has brought in about $1.6 billion,” says Hoskins.

There is opposition to the proposal from powerful Senate President Pro Tem Dave Schatz (R-Sullivan), who has described the alleged illegal Missouri slot machines as “a tax on most poor people.” Schatz has emphasized the Platte County judge’s ruling, and estimates there are about 20,000 of these machines in Missouri.

Missouri Lottery executive director May Scheve Reardon, a former state representative, has testified that the slot machines are hurting public education in Missouri. She has also testified there’s a major issue with the machines along the I-44 corridor, from around St. James to Lebanon.

As for Senator Hoskins, he supports an all-inclusive gaming agenda in 2022, which includes sports wagering, esports and horse racing.

Chairman Hoskins tells Missourinet he would “love” to see horse racing in Missouri. He notes 60 percent of Missouri voters approved pari-mutuel horse wagering in 1984.

“Several other states do have horse racing in their state. And what they’ve done is they’ve combined horse racing with video lottery terminals, with Sportsbook and things like that,” Hoskins says.

An example is Fairmount Park in Collinsville, Illinois, which is near downtown St. Louis. Senator Hoskins plans to pre-file Sportsbook legislation in December, saying that more than 30 other states offer a version of sports wagering. He predicts Sportsbook would raise about $20 million annually for Missouri.

During an interview with Missourinet, Hoskins also emphasized the importance of emerging gaming issues. He plans to file legislation that includes an esports provision. Hoskins says there is a surge in interest in esports, which is competitive video gaming.

“When you talk about esports, we’re talking about players, playing whether it’s Madden football, whether it’s Halo, whether it’s Fortnite. And there are tournaments all over the United States as well as all over the world with this going on,” says Hoskins.

His bill will include a provision for betting on esports.

“Some states have even built esports stadiums in order to host many of these game tournaments. And so, I could see that being a huge industry coming into the state of Missouri,” Hoskins says.

Hoskins represents eight counties in western, central and northwest Missouri: Caldwell, Carroll, Howard, Johnson, Lafayette, Livingston, Ray and Saline.

Pre-filing of bills for Missouri’s 2022 legislative session will begin on December 1 in Jefferson City. That’s a Wednesday.

Click here to listen to Brian Hauswirth’s full interview with State Sen. Denny Hoskins (R-Warrensburg), which was recorded on July 14, 2021:

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