Editorial: Missouri has tolerated illegal slot machines for far too long. Stop them. | Editorial

Most companies that engage in illegal behavior at least try to be discreet about it. Then there are those behind Missouri’s thriving illegal slot machine business, who instead send high-powered lobbyists to trick the Legislature into thinking they’re not breaking the law. Some lawmakers are once again trying to clamp down on this blatant and costly circumvention of state gambling regulations, but face pressure from lobbyists like former House Speaker Steve Tilley and stacks of cash. the country. Every day lawmakers allow this snub industry to operate unhindered, they confirm the worst suspicions about the status quo in Jefferson City.

Licensed casinos pump hundreds of millions of dollars into Missouri education and other public services each year through state gambling fees, while subjecting themselves to state oversight to ensure the fair play and keep criminal elements out. But in recent years, players have had another choice: thousands of slot machines installed in bars and restaurants across Missouri receive money from players and offer the chance for bigger payouts. That sounds like a pretty clear definition of gaming. Yet the owners of the machines claim, with various arguments, that it isn’t.