This afternoon with just enough Senators present for a quorum, the Senate Ways and Means Committee chaired by Sen. Carl Vogel, passed SB 1052 which removes the loss limit.
Even though a hearing on the bill which took place last week provided testimony citing the Missouri Gaming Commission’s recently released statewide market study showing that, “A clear majority of survey respondents favor the Missouri Loss Limit.” Members of the committee seemed to have been persuaded by the anecdotal evidence and personal stories of the main sponsor Sen. Scott Rupp more than statistics showing that over 60% of Missourians are in favor of the loss limit versus an approximate 25% who are opposed to the loss limit.
This decision seems curious in light of the casino industry filing of an ballot initiative with the Secretary of State that would essentially accomplish the same goals as SB 1052. With no public outcry for the removal of the loss limit and no evidence to suggest that the legislature needs to act immediately, the motivations behind this bill being forced through the Missouri General Assembly are not quite clear. Many Senators in the past have questioned why the loosening of regulations over the casino industry have not been approved by a vote of the people. Now as the legislature once again deals with the issue of loss limit removal (the only remnant of the original deal used to convince Missourians to legalize gambling in the state) many are left wondering why this issue isn’t simply left to the people to decide. It must be that the gambling special interests and their legislative supporters really know the true feelings of Missourians. Maybe they did listen to the factual evidence provided during last week’s hearing after all.