Missouri lawmakers hear issues of illegal slot machines

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- Illegal slot machines are popping up all across Missouri.

"They're pretty much all over the place," Lt. Roger Phillips with the Missouri State Highway Patrol

So far in 2019, the Missouri State Highway Patrol says it has received 145 complaints about alleged illegal slot machines.

"People call us. They're usually asking us 'are these things legal?' and they're pretty passionate about it," Phillips said.

A lot of the machines aren't legal, but the highway patrol says it doesn't have the resources to investigate all of the complaints.

"There's so many of these devices. We have two investigators we're having to pull from, so what we would need is the resources to continue to go out to investigate these," Phillips said.

The Missouri Gaming Association released a statement Thursday saying it supports the Highway Patrol in investigating these claims, and said "we oppose any legislation that would effectively reward these lawbreakers by legalizing what are being referred to as video lottery terminals but are in essence slot machines."

Bob Priddy, a Jefferson City resident gave several scenarios to the committee on what to do if they legalize the machines.

He said they could be run independently with the revenues going to the establishments. The Lottery commission could regulate them, with the proceeds going to the lottery which then go to education. Or, they could be considered under casino regulation, with a percentage going to casinos and the state.

"So, you might think about where the money will go, depending on who controls these machines, which entity regulates them," Priddy said.

There is a criminal case in Platte County where police seized four alleged illegal slot machines from a gas station. It's expected to go to trial in December, and could end up in the hands of the State Supreme Court. That decision could be a big factor in the lawmakers decision on legislation during the next legislative session.

A report in the St. Louis Post Dispatch says a St. Louis company that puts the illegal machines into locations across the state has given $20,000 to Governor Mike Parson's campaign. KY3/KSPR's Andrew Havranek messaged Parson's campaign manager, but has not heard back.

There are more hearings with this committee on gaming...the next on is October 24th, where lawmakers will discuss sports betting.

Read the original version of this article at www.ky3.com.