Gaming Gray Market in Missouri Needs Regulation
A gray market involving video gaming machines in Missouri has come under fire, with some calling for regulation to control operations.
In every state within the US where gambling is legalized, there are rules and regulations that need to be followed. For an operator to offer services, a license or approval must be given by regulators. While this is common practice, there are some states where gaming machines operate in what is called a gray area, as there are no clear cut laws defining what type of games are legal or illegal. This is what is taking place in Missouri. Video gaming machines were recently destroyed in Platte City, after being ruled illegal in a local court room. Now, more action is being called for, with some saying the games need to be regulated to ensure a safe market.
Games Still Offered
Even though some video gaming machines were destroyed just a few days ago, similar machines are still in operation around the state. As many as 14,000 machines are available right now and considered a gray-market game.
Such games can be found at restaurants and bars, truck stops and gas stations throughout the state. It has been estimated that as many as 20,000 machines may be in operation. Supporters feel the machines are legal and are considered a no-chance game as players can see if they will win or lose if they place the next bet.
Opponents feel the games are illegal and the state needs to put legislation in place so that the games will operate based on state law and the local jurisdictions will reap the benefits. Within the group of opponents is the operators who offer legal riverboat gaming.
If the state does not make any legal changes, then the gray market devices will continue operating. It will then be up to local law enforcement if any action will be taken against the machine operators.
When the action is left up to local authorities, you have varying decisions made based on the feelings of those in charge. One county may feel the games are in a gray legal area but do not see a problem with them operating. Others may feel that the games are illegal and should not be operational, shutting them down in every area they can.
Last year, legislation was submitted that would ban games like slot machines in the state. The measure was unable to gain any ground. During the recent session, Senator Denny Hoskins introduced a bill that defined no-chance games as illegal gambling machines. This bill did not gain enough support to move forward.
Now, it looks like Senate President Pro Tem Dave Schatz is pushing for the state Gaming Commission to have the power to stop the machines from operating. It seems that a decision needs to be made on whether or not the machines will be allowed and in what capacity if any change is going to take place.
If a decision is not made and no laws are put in place regarding the machines, then the outcome of the gaming operations will vary depending on where you look. With legal action taken, each county or local jurisdictions will know how to respond to such machines and do what is needed, be it requiring the machines to be licensed or to shut down operations.
It will be interesting to see what happens in the future, including what route will be taken when it comes to dealing with the no-chance games that are still operating in the thousands across the state of Missouri.