JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — A western Missouri prosecutor’s lawsuit against a gambling machine provider could halt the proliferation of video gambling terminals in the state.
Eric Zahnd, prosecuting attorney for Platte County, is accusing Kansas-based Integrity Gaming LLC of installing illegal machines in two Parkville convenience stores, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
Police seized five video poker-like devices from the stores in October 2018. Both store owners said Integrity Gaming set up the machines. The devices work similar to slot machines. A player inserts money, picks a game and chooses how much to bet. Players who win money can cash out and receive their money from the store cashier.
Company officials said their terminals aren’t considered betting devices since the result of each game is predetermined.
“The games have no element of skill,” a March 20 police report notes.
Zahnd views it differently.
“We believe these sorts of machines are illegal under Missouri law,” Zahnd said. “Ultimately, the court is going to have to decide.”
The court will consider the legal action in December.
The case has garnered attention after Missouri lawmakers disagreed on whether to legalize sports betting and slot machines in a recent session.
The U.S. Supreme Court lifted a ban on states allowing gambling on sports last year.
The Missouri lottery could also make a profit if the gambling machines are replaced with legal slots that generate tax revenue.
In December, May Scheve Reardon, lottery chief of Missouri, told her board of directors that the agency wants a piece of the action to create revenue for education. The Missouri Gaming commission subsequently approved a motion that calls for the lottery to maximize its revenue by being included in future gambling expansion plans.
“We know that this will impact our sales in the future,” Reardon said. “It’s going to drastically affect the money that’s being returned to education.”
Senate President Pro Tem Dave Schatz is among officials who are looking for a way to prohibit gambling terminals in Missouri.
They are starting to pop up more and more,” Schatz said. “We’re trying to figure out what’s the appropriate way to move forward.”