Missouri’s Major Newspaper Urges Stricter Regulations on Skill Gaming

Posted on: September 12, 2023, 08:57h. 

Last updated on: September 12, 2023, 08:57h.

Missouri’s Leading Newspaper Urges Crackdown on Unregulated Video Skill Gaming Machines

Missouri skill gaming no-chance machines
Dave McCall of St. Louis plays a no-chance skill gaming machine at the South Public Market in 2019. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch is calling on state and local law enforcement to crack down on the controversial gaming machines. (Image: St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Unregulated skill gaming machines continue to raise concerns in Missouri and across the US, including in Pennsylvania and Virginia. These machines have become widespread in convenience stores and restaurants in Missouri, leading to calls for stricter law enforcement.

Unlike regulated slot machines found in licensed casinos, skill gaming machines operate differently. Referred to as “No-Chance Games,” these machines allow players to see the outcome of the next play before placing a bet.

For example, games like “Play & Win” disclose whether the next play will result in a win. These machines require players to lose initially in order to ultimately win. Supporters argue that this distinction exempts them from gambling regulations since players have knowledge of the next outcome and therefore, it’s not purely chance-based.

Public Appeal from Media Outlet

Despite concerns, Missouri Governor Mike Parson and Attorney General Andrew Bailey have shown little interest in addressing these skill gaming machines. Bailey recently recused himself from a lawsuit filed against the Missouri State Highway Patrol by the leading skill gaming manufacturer, Torch Electronics. The manufacturer has also made significant political campaign donations to both Parson and Bailey.

Another lawsuit filed against Torch, alleging that the machines caused individuals who had self-excluded from regulated casinos to lose money, was dismissed by US District Judge Brian Wimes. Wimes argued that the plaintiffs had the choice not to play the games.

The editorial board of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch believes that these unregulated machines pose a significant threat to the public, as they lack consumer protections and regulatory safeguards.

These unregulated machines are diverting business away from licensed casinos, all while avoiding the gaming taxes that fund education and evading regulations that ensure game fairness, prevent gambling addiction, and protect children from participating,” stated the op-ed.

The editorial also criticized the industry’s lobbying efforts in favor of minimal regulation and highlighted their lawsuit against the Missouri Highway Patrol for investigating their illegal activities.

Doubts on Entertainment Claims

Torch Electronics claims that their skill or no-chance gaming machines provide entertainment and potential cash winnings. The manufacturer also argues that these machines are beneficial to small and local businesses, as they encourage customers to stay longer and generate more revenue. Additionally, a portion of the machines’ profits is shared with the host establishments.

However, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch editorial board dismisses these claims, asserting that the machines are simply a form of gambling with a chance of winning money.

“Their argument that these machines don’t constitute gambling is baseless. The patrons who regularly invest their money certainly aren’t doing it purely for entertainment, but rather in hopes of receiving a financial return. It’s disingenuous at best,” concluded the editorial.

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