A bill is working its way through the Missouri legislature could be a solution to unlicensed machines cropping up around the state. It is hoped that this bill will not only be able to regulate the activity and add additional revenue for the state.
Video machines have been spreading across the state, but have done nothing for government coffers. These machines are not regulated, and there is no requirement for operators to pay any form of tax.
Senate Bill 566 looks to address these concerns. The bill, sponsored by State Senator Denny Hoskins, legalizes video lottery game terminals in fraternal and veterans’ organizations, truck stops, and retail locations which also have liquor licenses. The terminals would be connected to a centralized computer system overseen by the state lottery commission, but the machines would be required to be placed in a separate, supervised area that was only accessible to people who are 21 years of age or older.
One area that is unclear at this point is if the bill would automatically legalize machines that are currently operating. Hoskins indicated that some could be grandfathered in as long as they were in compliance with the law, but he did not provide any further details.
What seems to have several lawmakers supporting the bill now is the provision that ensures that the machines are not accessible to children. State Senator John Rizzo recently talked about an experience where he stopped at a gas station where these machines were operating and that they were accessible to anyone, including small children.
The Missouri Senate had taken up a measure on February 20 to shut down these machines, but it faced some opposition in the legislature. These machines are commonly found at gas stations, bars, and clubs, and a bipartisan group of senators immediately opposed any legislation that would prohibit the operation of these machines.
In a statement provided by AGEM Executive Director Marcus Prater at the time, he explained that “The regulated gaming industry has rarely been more united on a singular issue and now we have a tool to address the misinformation and deception that unregulated machine companies use to confound law enforcement, the courts, and local citizens.”
Several business owners are hoping this new bill passes. They pointed out that the addition of these lottery terminals in their restaurants and bars will encourage customers to come to their establishment to play while they dine or drink.