Andrew Bailey was sworn in as Missouri’s 44th attorney general on Jan. 9. Right after, Bailey told reporters he has no intention of addressing the rampant spread of illegal gambling in the state.
Bailey echoed the same sentiments of his predecessor, Sen. Eric Schmitt, who also refused to confront the problem. Once again, the state lacks a legal opinion on video lottery terminals (VLTs). The machines have been popping up in liquor stores and gas stations across Missouri.
Bailey leaves illegal gambling issue to local authorities
While Missouri online casino gambling remains illegal, the state boasts 13 riverboat casinos — the only places where VLTs are technically legal.
Local law enforcement must interpret the law on VLTs.
And that’s the way it should be, Bailey told reporters:
“That is an issue that’s up to local law enforcement investigators and local prosecutors.”
Hoskins wants sports betting bill to include legalizing VLTs
One Missouri lawmaker believes the best way to deal with the problem is simply to make VLTs legal.
Senator Denny Hoskins has put forth a sports betting bill that would not only make VLTs legal but would also install even more throughout the state. He has threatened to filibuster if VLTs are not part of the measure legalizing sports betting.
His SB 1 bill would legalize the placement of these devices “in fraternal organizations, veterans’ organizations, truck stops and business entities licensed to sell liquor by the drink.”
Unfortunately for Hoskins — and for the legalization of sports betting — Missouri casinos are extremely against allowing VLTs outside their venues. The level of support Hoskins has within the General Assembly, however, is unknown.
Group says casino attendance is down in MO
Members of the Missouri Home Dock Cities Association had urged Senator Schmitt to enforce laws on gambling devices in response to a drop in attendance at casinos statewide.
Additionally, money from these devices is not being taxed, so the association contends there’s no benefit to communities or schools.
Ninety percent of gaming tax revenue in the state goes to education, while the remaining 10% is spread throughout local jurisdictions. During fiscal year 2022, around $360 million was contributed to education. It was the highest contribution in the state’s history, with the previous record being $341 million in 2011.
Hoskins estimates sports betting would bring in around $10 million to the state at a 10% tax rate. VLTs, though, would pull in a whopping $250 million. He would like to see the bulk of the money go toward education and also veterans’ services.