In the ongoing saga over video lottery terminals, or VLTs, across Missouri, the Columbia Missourian came out with a scathing editorial directed at Attorney General Andrew Bailey. The editorial shines a light on Bailey’s continued “hands-off” approach when dealing with the issue, while pulling apart his argument that it’s a “complex” issue.
The editorial calls out the AG’s continued inaction in dealing with the slots-like machines, while also subtly criticizing Bailey and his office’s stance on progressive issues in the state such as transgender rights, gun control and abortion.
Bailey has recused his office from any litigation between the state and VLT owners, who are upset about law enforcement deeming the machines illegal and confiscating them. The editorial points out that Bailey accepted campaign contributions, more than $25,000, from PACs related to plaintiffs in the suit.
Issue of VLTs isn’t ‘complex,’ editorial contends
Unfortunately, the VLT issue has become connected to the state’s inability to pass sports betting legislation. Basically, one state senator who wants to see VLTs legalized and taxed has held Missouri sports betting hostage over it.
The main point the editorial draws upon is the idea that the state’s situation in dealing with the unregulated machines isn’t complex like Bailey claims. Bailey has said taking action to do something about the VLTs across the state all at once isn’t something he believes possible to do.
“Not all the machines are the same. It’s impossible to make a blanket determination … It’s complex.”
The editors of the Missourian don’t buy that explanation.
“No, it isn’t.”
The editorial claims the machines foster an environment for illegal gambling due to a lack of regulation, That, effectively, makes them illegal. The editorial also claims kids will “inevitably” be using these machines to win money, and some of the machines have ripped off users, the editorial points out.
“The Missouri Gaming Commission has fielded complaints from players who claim the host businesses of the unlicensed machines have refused to honor winnings as high as $3,000. There have also been reports of children using the machines.”
Missourian disputes claims that machines are not ‘game of chance’
The owners of the VLTs claim that they are not game-of-chance machines, which make them legal according to Missouri law. Players have an opportunity to see if the machine’s next spin is a winner before playing on it. That makes them a game of skill, they contend.
The editorial board doesn’t buy that either.
“But the catch is that players can’t see the outcome of the play after that. And the only way to know if they will eventually win more than they put in is to accept even a losing outcome of the play in front of them.”
Effectively, this rules out any possibility of the games being skill-based, the editorial says. It also brings into question whether the games are fixed.
Missourian champions regulation of the machines
At the end of the day, the editorial board wants Bailey to simply do his job and take action against the unregulated machines to prevent their spread and the effect they have on the state’s gambling market.
If the machines were regulated, it’d lead to more tax dollars for Missouri, which would be used to help fund public schools across the state. The editorial says these machines take money out of the pockets of schools, regulated casinos and taxpayers.