Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing saga of illegal slot machines that have popped up all over Missouri. Torch Electronics is one of the manufacturers of these machines and they contend they are legal. Few seem to agree and local prosecutors have slowly been working to take down the machines and bring charges. Torch attempted to stop a Cole County case earlier this year and now it appears they are trying again in another case. The St Louis Post Dispatch reports:
A Wildwood-based slot machine company sued a southwest Missouri county prosecutor this month in an attempt to stop an investigative subpoena into its operations.
The politically connected Torch Electronics sued Greene County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Patterson on July 15, asking the Greene County Circuit Court to quash an investigative subpoena directed at the company.
Torch argues its machines aren’t illegal gambling devices. Even so, the company faces felony illegal gambling charges in northern Missouri’s Linn County, and the Highway Patrol has deemed illegal machines such as Torch’s that are being placed in gas stations, restaurants and truck stops.
Torch’s lawsuit attempts to quash an investigative subpoena issued June 14 that seeks to “compel the production of a wide range of documents … including third-party contracts/agreements, financial records and technical information,” the lawsuit said.
Such suits, as well as a general inaction at the Missouri state legislative level, have once again called for support of a blanket and more statewide response to these illegal gambling machines. The Jefferson City New Tribune was the latest to call for action in their OpEd:
Illegal gambling machines have pervaded our state in recent years. Lawmakers and law enforcers need to address the problem. The Missouri Gaming Association estimates there are at least 14,000 illegal machines — almost as many as the number of legal ones in the state’s 13 casinos.
We understand the Gaming Association’s opposition to illegal gambling — all those machines at gas stations, restaurants and truck stops are taking a chunk of profits from the casinos and the Missouri Lottery. But the public should care, too. These machines aren’t regulated or taxed like ones in casinos. So there’s nothing to guard against minors or problem gamblers playing and the state isn’t getting a financial boost from the unregulated machines.
Unlike the Missouri Lottery, no proceeds from the unregulated machines are being used for education, for instance. As we recently reported, the machines are similar to slot machines: Players insert money, choose a game and wager, and are usually paid by a business’ cashier if they win.
Action from state lawmakers also is needed to clarify the laws. Senate President Pro Tempore Dave Schatz, R-Sullivan, advanced a bill this past session that would have done that. But it never advanced past the Senate Floor. We urge lawmakers to make addressing the problem a priority during the next session.
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