Missouri Attorney General calls state’s slot machines ‘complex’

May 31, 2023
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Are unregulated slot games in restaurants, bars and gas stations a legal gray area in the Show-Me State?

Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey has stated that the presence of unregulated slot machines in establishments like gas stations and bars is “complex,” rather than simply legal or illegal. The Missouri public has also weighed in on the machines with various complaints.

Bailey spoke on a local radio show, hosted by McGraw Milhaven, saying, “Not all the machines are the same. It’s impossible to make a blanket determination that everything that looks like an illegal gaming machine must therefore by definition be an illegal gaming machine.”

Appointed in January, Bailey also said the video gambling machines should be handled at a local rather than state level. However, the Missouri Gaming Commission has now received over 100 calls and 70 written complaints about the machines in local businesses, clamouring for law enforcement to address them.

The slots are being called a community detriment by some and a rip-off by others. Some complaints are against the entire presence of the machines, and gambling as a whole, while others who have played the machines are calling to say they are not being paid the jackpots they’ve won.

Police and local prosecutors are unsure what can be done about the unregulated machines’ inability to pay winnings, as the slots are not being taxed by Missouri. Legislature efforts to regulate and tax the games have not progressed, and have instead become conflated with other arguments around legalizing sports betting.

Torch Electronics and Warrenton Oil are currently suing the state of Maine based on the alleged harassment for them to remove machines they provided to businesses. Bailey withdrew his office from the lawsuit and a private attorney has been hired at taxpayer expense.

Bailey also clarified that the legality of any game depends on whether it is a game of skill or chance.

He added, “What about the claw machine – your kids put a quarter in and they manipulate this claw inside of a box, the claw goes down and gets a stuffed animal. You’re paying money to play a game. Is it chance or is it skill?”


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