Five illegal gambling machines were publicly destroyed in Platte City, according to Missouri state law, after a three-year-long investigation.
Sending a clear message about illegal gambling in Missouri
Unregulated gaming machine controversy has been heating up in recent years.
Platte City Police Chief Kevin Chrisman reported the machines in operation at a local convenience store three years ago.
Under a Missouri law dating back to 1951, any device used for illegal gambling in Missouri is forfeited to the state and “shall be ordered publicly destroyed.”
Platte County prosecutor, Eric Zahnd, felt strongly about taking this case public in the hopes of further upholding state-sanctioned riverboat casinos
“We want the public to see that these machines will never go back into circulation.”
He made his point!
Last month, a 15,000-pound backhoe took 40 seconds to decimate the illegal gambling machines publicly in the Platte County Public Works lot. The lot has plenty of space and heavy equipment to take on such a task.
The owner of the games, Integrity Vending, was eventually convicted of promoting gambling. They pulled all games from other locations in the state and paid a fine of $7,500.
Lawmakers cracking down on illegal gaming machines in Missouri
There are approximately two dozen criminal cases pending around the state for video gaming machines. This is the result of the machines growing in popularity in convenience stores and other locations.
Missouri Independent stated that while Integrity Vending removed its machines from the state, others have not. In all, about 24 prosecutions, mainly misdemeanor cases, have been filed since the start of 2019. Estimates put the number of machines being played in the state at over 15,000.
Earlier this year, Senate President Pro Tem Dave Schatz stated that some lawmakers want to expand gaming which may include sports betting in Missouri. If they do expand, it may also allow for these types of machines to operate legally. He would oppose that measure. He isn’t even willing to entertain a debate on the issue until the state reins in illegal gambling.
“The thing that frustrates me is these companies are operating illegally, but they are betting that the legislature will eventually come in and wave a magic wand and make it legal for these games to exist in Missouri,” he said.
“If we want to expand gaming, then we need to make sure there is a level playing field. We can’t allow bad actors to have an advantage because they were willing to break the law.”
Missouri gambling laws and illegal gambling machines
Labeled “No Chance Gambling“, these machines allow gamblers to view whether they will win or lose if they play the next bet. If the next bet is a loser, the player can:
- Withdraw their money
- Cancel the bet
- Change games
- Wager different amounts
Promoters of the machine say that feature makes them legal, however, county officials disagree.
The Missouri Gaming Commission and the Missouri State Highway Patrol have said these machines are gambling devices. The state does not regulate or tax these games in any capacity at this time.