Missouri lawmakers renew debate on illegal gambling and sports wagering

By Gambling Insider

A Senate hearing in the state of Missouri has reopened discussions around illegal gambling and sports wagering, in what is a repeat of the discussions held in January 2021.  

Lawmakers met this week in an attempt to decide what constitutes an illegal gambling machine, with a bill to ban ‘pre-reveal' games placed before members of the Senate. The confusion has stemmed from the definition of ‘games of chance’, and whether pre-reveal games fall into that category.  

It is argued that, if they do, they are operating outside of the law, as it is illegal in Missouri for slot machines to be used anywhere other than legalised casinos.  

State Senator Bill White is in favour of banning pre-reveal games, commenting: “It is a rather loose and fictitious argument to say this is not a game of chance. People who sell pot could be considered a small business and it is illegal under our statutes.” 

On the other side of the argument, Tim Robbins, who is lobbying for the machines to be considered legal, said: “Our games are not gambling devices because they are not games of chance. The games found to be illegal... required a player to deposit money before learning whether they win or lose.”  

One of the largest pre-reveal vendors in the state, Torch Electronics, faces prosecution for felony promotion and gambling, although the company is currently appealing this status. 

Separately, the Senate lawmakers will once again discuss the possibility of legalising online sports wagering in the state. Currently, 30 states have legalised some form of online sports betting since the US Supreme Court ruling in 2018, with Missouri one of those still to do so.  

Senator Denny Hoskins, who is making his fourth attempt to bring online sports betting to Missouri, commented: “Hopefully we can get something passed. There are 30 states with sportsbooks. We have all the stakeholders on the same page.”

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