At the beginning of this legislative session Missouri State Representative Michael Parson introduced HB 1864. This bill allows operators of excursion gambling boats to deposit checks on the next business day of the financial institution instead of within 24 hours. There is no inherent need for the change in law because the Missouri Gaming Commission already addressed this issue through regulation. MICS Chapter H, Standard 10.08 clearly states, “The Class A Licensee shall deposit, for collection, all negotiable instruments by the next banking day following receipt. Failure to do so shall be considered an extension of credit pursuant to 11 CSR 45-5.053 (N) and RSMo 313.812.9.”
There also appears to be no concerned party asking for such a change or demonstrating harm to the people of Missouri. This, of course, naturally follows given there is a clear regulation prohibiting any potential transgression.
This begs the question: why, if there exists no inherent need for the law as it is already clearly addressed in regulation, and if there is no concerned party asking for a change, and if there are no gamblers being harmed, would a legislator attempt to pass legislation?
Could it be because the intention of the original sponsor of the bill was not to make this statutory change, but to use the bill as a vehicle for removing the $500 loss limit? The bill passed the house 138-13. This is not a surprising vote because there was nothing controversial in the bill while in the house.
With one chamber cleared lets look at what’s happening with the bill in the Senate. The bill was first referred to the Financial, Governmental Organization and Election committee (quite fitting considering the financial nature of the bill). The following day the bill was re-referred to Senate Ways and Means. Why the change? With a quick glance of the members of this committee, it’s easy to conclude that group is far more anti-gambling then their counterparts in Ways and Means. Then, in Ways and Means, Senator Scott Rupp’s bill, SB 1052, is added as an amendment. You may recall that this bill seeks to remove the loss limit. Not surprising, this bill, like all gambling bills over the last few years, easily passed out of this committee to go to the Senate floor.
At this point the Senate sponsor of HB 1864 is non other than Senator Rupp. Now we may never know the true answer to the question of the sponsor’s original intent but there is one thing we know for sure. Rep. Parsons can choose who sponsors his bill and he allowed Senator Rupp to take control. If Rep. Parsons did not want this bill to be about loss limits then he should not have allowed Senator Rupp to amend it and take control.
If Rep. Parsons is happy being grouped in with the pro gambling special interests then he has found the perfect way to do so. If, however, he does not want to carry this scarlet letter then he needs to take immediate action to remove the loss limit amendment and support only the original intent of the legislation. There is still time to do what is right and I hope he makes the correct decision. It may be considerably tough for Rep. Parsons to clean this bill up considering he has taken special interest money from the casino industry.
The evidence seems to clearly demonstrate that this bill served no real purpose other than to become a vehicle for removal of the loss limit. Please contact your Senator and Representative and ask them to reject HB 1864.