ST. LOUIS COUNTY, MO - The Missouri Highway Patrol is cracking down on scores of illegal gambling devices in operation across the state, with even more cases pending.
Gambling is legal in the Show-Me State and it’s been that way for years. People worry about the one or two illegal machines you’ll see in bars or convenience stores. Folks with the Missouri Lottery said the unsanctioned slot machines are cutting into lottery profits, money which would go to fund education.
May Scheve Reardon is the executive director of the lottery. She said, “I really believe this could be tens of millions of dollars and it’s growing by the day.”
The Missouri Highway Patrol is now investigating 73 cases with another 8 ready to be looked into.
Florissant mayor and former police chief Timothy Lowery ordered the questionable machines to be shut down in his community. But he said no one would prosecute the cases. Lowery added, “There was a point in time when I allowed them to come back in even though my feeling was they were illegal.”
Not only is the state losing big bucks but customers who play the illegal video gambling devices may not be getting a fair chance. Reardon said, “I believe the consumer is unprotected when they approach these machines we do not know what the payout is, we don’t how often the payout is.”
Mayor Lowery said, “We should have laws that are passed and they should be regulated and they should be taxed.” There’s a move to make these slot machines legal and regulated, with the state getting millions in more revenue. That decision will be up to state lawmakers and the governor.