Author Archives: evls

Florida Appeals Court to Rule on New “Pre-reveal” Slot Machines

Casino Watch Focus has reported on a new form of slot machine termed pre-reveal machines. These machines have the ability to drastically expand gambling in the state should the be viewed as anything other than a slot machine. Slot machines would be heavily regulated as a game of chance and face numerous restrictions. They work slightly different that a typical slot machine in that the reveal what the next spin will be. The creators and those that believe they shouldn’t be regulated as slot machines claim that because you see what the next spin will be, it can’t be gambling. The judge originally agreed with the creators and said they were legal machines. The judge was urged to reexamine how the machines actually work and it was explained to him that event though the next pull was revealed, it was the spin after that would be revealed that gamblers were chasing. It’s exactly like a slot machine except the gambler is one play behind. They basically pay for the spin they know is coming, but its really the next spin that will be revealed that they gamble on being a winner. Now the case has reached the Appellate level and its outcome could have a huge impact if these machines are deemed legal. An online source explains: 

In a legal dispute that’s dragged on for more than three years and has eluded a legislative remedy, an appellate court is grappling with whether popular tabletop games are illegal slot machines or more-benign entertainment options for customers of bars and restaurants.

The 1st District Court of Appeal heard arguments Tuesday in the case centered on games produced by Blue Sky Games and leased by Jacksonville-based Gator Coin II Inc., after a Tallahassee judge last year sided with gambling regulators who maintain that the games violate a Florida law banning slot machines in most parts of the state.

Proponents of the devices, known as “pre-reveal games,” contend that the machines are legal because the computer games include a “preview” feature that advises players of the outcome of the games.

But critics, including the Department of Business and Professional Regulation, say that doesn’t matter because the “random number generator” used to create the games equates to the definition of slot machines, which are games of “chance,” under state law.

There’s nothing players can do to affect the outcome of the game, which fits the definition of slots, department attorney Daniel McGinn told a three-judge panel Tuesday.

The only other argument that they are advancing is that because the first game is known, and only the games after are not known, then a ruling requires looking at all the games played and not simply a single game. The state believes its irrelevant if one game is played or many games are played. The online source continues:

A key issue in the case involves whether the slot-machine law applies to playing a single game or a series of games. While the outcome of the first game is revealed in advance, a player at the outset does not know the results of subsequent games.

Judge James Wolf repeatedly asked lawyers on both sides whether the court should consider whether a single game or a series of games violates the law.

“I’m a simple kind of guy. It comes down to whether we can consider the entire course of the play or one particular game. Their argument is one particular game is not a game of chance because you know the outcome. … What in the statute allows us to consider the entire course of play?” he asked, pointing out that the state law defines slot machines, in part, as a device whose outcome is “unpredictable by the user.”

The answer rests in the way the machines generate the games, which the state believes violates the law, said McGinn, whose department regulates gambling. “From our perspective, it doesn’t matter whether it’s one game. It doesn’t matter whether it’s multiple games,” he said.

For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION


Online Site Launched to Combat March Madness Gambling at the University level

Casino Watch Focus reported that  as the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament runs through the end of March, billions will be lost to gambling.  Even though all age groups are susceptible to the negative effects of gambling, this type of sports gambling is especially popular among university-aged students.  As a result, a new website has been launched to help educated those students about gambling during March Madness.  An online source explains:

As the NCAA college basketball tournament approaches, the National Center for Responsible Gaming (NCRG) is launching a public awareness initiative to encourage college administrators, campus health professionals and students to learn more about college gambling and gambling-related harms. The campaign also helps to educate students who are of legal age about how to make responsible decisions about gambling.

The centerpiece of the campaign is  www.CollegeGambling.org, a science-based resource developed by the NCRG to help colleges and universities address gambling and gambling-related harms on college campuses. The website brings together the latest research and best practices in responsible gaming and the field of addiction awareness and prevention. CollegeGambling.org provides free resources for university administrators, campus health professionals, students and parents to help address this issue in the way best suited to the needs of each campus.

The National Center for Responsible Gambling has said that 75% of university students had gambled in the last year.  They go on to say that one in five have been involved in sports gambling.  Not all the gambling is legal, especially considering the age of most college students is below the legal age and the shear amount of illegal sports bookies.  Many are able to avoid the pitfalls of this type of gambling, but for those that don’t, there can be major consequences.  The online source continues:

“While a majority of those old enough to legally gamble can do so responsibly, research estimates that 6 percent of U.S. college students have some form of gambling problem that can result in psychological difficulties, unmanageable debt and failing grades,” said Christine Reilly, senior research director of the NCRG. “For those who are not of legal age to gamble, there is no level of responsible gambling.”

CollegeGambling.org provides collateral materials about college gambling and responsible gaming, such as brochures, fact sheets, posters and toolkits. The website also houses customizable presentations that university counselors, peer educators and student leaders can use during their educational programming opportunities.  The website materials are available as free downloads.

For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION


Candidates agree during the gubernatorial debates: you should vote NO on A

In response to a question during the debate, both Hulshof and Nixon said they opposed Proposition A – a Nov. 4 ballot measure that would repeal Missouri’s unique $500 loss limit for gamblers, cap the number of new casino licenses and increase casino taxes, with the new money going to public schools. “I support continuing the $500 loss limit,” Nixon said. “I think the people of Missouri have spoken on that” by approving the loss limits as part of the ballot initiative that authorized riverside casinos in the 1990s. Hulshof said he also opposed the ballot measure because it would do away with the electronic gamblers’ identification cards, which are used in conjunction with the loss limit.

Click here for the enitre article by David Lieb of the Associated Press – Springfield News-Leader


Casino interests change committee name

From Randy Turner of The Turner Report:

The Yes for Schools First Committee is a thing of the past.

Missouri Ethics Commission documents filed Aug. 21 show the committee pushing for the removal of loss limits and the elimination of competition for casinos has changed its name to Yes on A Coalition.

The committee is pushing the passage of Proposition A, the so-called Schools First Initiative in November.

Though the casino interests are trying to sell Missourians on this proposition by linking it with schools, I described the effort this way in the May 3 Turner Report:

One of the biggest fictions that continues to be foisted upon the public is the idea that gambling money can solve all of the problems with school funding.

According to the advertising when Missourians approved a state lottery, that money was going to save the schools. Of course, the money was never designated for the schools, but was placed in general revenue. If the money had been targeted to schools, undoubtedly legislators would have cut the amount going into education from general revenue.

Every few years, those who want to increase gambling in this state, use education as a way to overcome resistance to the idea…and it is happening again.

The gambling interests never use names like “More Gambling in Missouri” or “A Sucker Born Every Minute” for their “grass roots” groups. The latest one, registered with the Missouri Ethics Commission on Dec. 21, 2007, is the Yes for Schools First Coalition.

The Coalition, which has been operating under the radar since that time (except for Arch City Chronicle and some in the blogosphere) appears to have landed enough signatures to allow Missourians to vote on removing loss limits from casinos, purportedly to pour those extra dollars into education.

Since this is a coalition designed to bring funding to education, you might expect to see those with a stake in education- parents, teachers, administrators, education interest groups lining up to back this initiative.

Missouri Ethics Commission documents paint a different picture.

The coalition’s most recent disclosure report, filed April 15, shows $1,427,700 in contributions. Not one cent came from anyone associated with education. In fact, the funding came from only two sources- $835,700 from Ameristar Casinos and $592,00 from Pinnacle Entertainment.

This was the news release issued by the coalition Friday:

The YES for Schools First Coalition today submitted to the Missouri Secretary of State more than 160,000 voter signatures on petitions for the Schools First Initiative – far more than the approximately 92,000 signatures required to place the initiative on the November 2008 statewide ballot.

“We’re pleased that Missouri voters have shown strong support for our measure,” said the group’s spokesperson, Anne Marie Moy. “The Schools First Initiative provides vitally needed new funds to Missouri schools by increasing the state taxes paid by casinos. It prohibits the legislature from using the casino taxes dedicated to education for any other purpose. It also protects thousands of local jobs and our state economy, by ensuring that Missouri casinos can compete for visitors on an equal basis with casinos in neighboring states.”

The Schools First Initiative will provide more than $100 million per year in new funds for elementary and secondary schools statewide by increasing the state tax paid by riverboat casinos to 21% and by eliminating Missouri’s $500 loss limit. The measure requires annual audits by the State Auditor to ensure that all casino tax revenues dedicated to education are used only for school funding and are not used to replace or supplant other education funds.

By eliminating Missouri’s outdated loss limit, which no other state imposes, the initiative will ensure that Missouri can compete for casino visitors on a level playing field. The initiative also prevents oversaturation of the in-state casino market by limiting the number of Missouri casinos to those already built or under construction.

The Schools First Initiative is supported by the YES for Schools First Coalition, which includes Missouri teachers and parents, and community and business leaders. The initiative also is endorsed by the Missouri Gaming Association, the organization which represents all casino companies operating in Missouri.

Reading the news release reminded me of the infamous Lamar con artist James R. Montgomery, who attempted to run a canned food drive, allegedly to benefit the needy, and advertised that he would have a particular church and the Boy Scouts helping him. The Lamar Police Department checked and found the school had nothing to do with the drive and neither did the Scouts. When I questioned him about the drive, he said it was all a misunderstanding. He never said the church was involved with the drive, just some church members, and he had never mentioned the Boy Scouts participating, just some members of the Boy Scouts. The canned food drive was canceled.

In this case, the coalition claims to consist of Missouri teachers and parents, but the coalition’s website does not contain any evidence of that.

From its name, the Schools First initiative sounds like an answer to all of our problems of education funding, but when you pull the curtain aside, this is a welfare proposal for the gambling industry.


GOP Platform Committee Refuses to Bow to Gambling Industry

From citizenlink.com:

The Republican Platform Committee retained a prohibition of Internet gambling in its draft platform, which will be approved at next week’s GOP convention.

The language, which had been a part of the last two platforms, includes the following: “Millions of Americans suffer from problem or pathological gambling that can destroy families. We support the law prohibiting gambling over the Internet or in student athletics by student athletes who are participating in competitive sports.”

Chad Hills, analyst for gambling research and policy at Focus on the Family Action, said: “Today, those afflicted by gambling addiction and families with children can be grateful for the great delegates who kept Internet gambling prohibition as part of the GOP platform.”


Ailing Gambling Industry Bets on Cruise Ships

From citizenlink.com:

With the gambling industry in a nationwide decline, gambling cruise ships are attempting to dock at Port Canaveral in Florida to lure gamblers.

Cruise line officials want to relocate because of mounting competition from land-based, Indian-run casinos and a shrinking consumer dollar, Florida Today reported.

Chad Hills, analyst for gambling research and policy at Focus on the Family Action, said gambling entities are desperate for business.

“As gambling invades new areas, it acts much like a black hole that drains money out of local economies, takes customers and revenue away from local businesses and causes a net economic drain on surrounding communities,” he said. “Port Canaveral likely will have a sinking boat in its harbor.”


From the Blogs: June 2009 trial set in Isle of Capri case

From Randy Turner at the Turner Report:

Justice won’t be swift for Rep. Joe Aull, D-Marshall, who won’t stand trial for his alleged role in the Isle of Capri case until June 25, 2009, according to Pettis County Circuit Court records.

Aull is accused of giving Sen. Jeff Smith, D-St. Louis, his identification to enable Smith to gamble at the Isle of Capri casino in Boonville on July 31, 2007. Aull, Smith and four others were at the casino on a lobbyist-financed junket, paid for by Isle of Capri lobbyist Chris Liese, according to Missouri Ethics Commission records.

Aull is being tried in Pettis County on a change of venue from Cooper County. Smith and former Isle of Capri lobbyist Lynne Schlosser will stand trial in Cooper County. A Sept. 30 hearing is scheduled in their cases with trial tentatively set for November.


Casino funded Loss Limit initiative may appear on November ballot

Last Tuesday, Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan certified a casino industry-backed initiative petition that would eliminate the $500 loss limit and raise casino taxes by one percent. In addition, this casino initiative which has been titled the “Yes for Schools First” initiative eliminates the mandatory checking of identification.

Casino Watch Executive Director, Evelio Silvera was quoted in the Kansas City Star about the ballot intiative:

“We’re looking forward to educating people on exactly what the consequences of passing this are,” said Evelio Silvera, executive director of the St. Louis-based Casino Watch citizens group, citing problem gamblers as one group that could be victimized by looser rules.

Silvera said some law enforcement agencies also could line up against the measure, because it would make it more difficult to identify gamblers, especially those who have been banned from the casino for criminal activity or have self-banned themselves to control their gambling habit.

The Gaming Commission last year sought unsuccessfully to toughen identification rules through the use of biometrics or fingerprinting.

Silvera on Tuesday said his group is encouraged by a Missouri Gaming Commission survey earlier this year that found more than 60 percent of those surveyed favored the loss limit versus about 25 percent who were opposed to its use in the state’s casino.

“I feel very confident that the gaming commission’s survey showed some attitude advantages for us,” he said.

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Related stories:

Yes for Casinos First!

The laughable idea of a casino spending $8 million in an effort to “help schools”


Ex-NBA referee sentenced in gambling scandal

Former NBA referee Tim Donaghy pled guilty to federal felony conspiracy charges alleging that he passed along inside information on NBA games.

Donaghy also alleges that referees helped alter the outcomes of games during the ’02 and ’05 postseasons.

According to the Associated Press and ESPN.com:

Disgraced ex-NBA official Tim Donaghy admitted that he’d brought shame on his profession Tuesday as a federal judge sentenced him to 15 months behind bars for his participation in a gambling scandal that still has the league on the defensive.

U.S. District Judge Carol Amon sentenced Donaghy to prison time, plus three years of supervised release, saying he’d let the sport down by taking thousands of dollars from a professional gambler in exchange for inside tips on games — including ones he refereed.

Mr. Donaghy’s attorney argued that an addiction to gambling motivated the former referee:

Defense attorney John Lauro asked Amon to give his 41-year-old client probation, saying the ex-official was a gambling addict who destroyed “the career he loved” and needed treatment, not incarceration.

What moves the NBA will take to prevent a problem of this magnitude again remains to be seen, but the Commissioner David Stern has been clear that current referees are under a watchful eye and that this incident was simply a “lone” referee. ESPN.com explains:

Case closed for him. For the NBA, the damage lingers.

Commissioner David Stern has made several moves to quell doubts about the integrity of the NBA’s officiating, with more developments to come

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Tim Donaghy Timeline

June ’07: FBI contacts NBA to discuss alleged betting probe
July ’07: Resigns from NBA, investigated as part of organized-crime probe in New York
Aug. ’07: Pleads guilty to two felony charges alleging he took cash payoffs from gamblers and bet on games himself
June ’08: Claims highly controversial Game 6 of the Lakers-Kings 2002 playoff series was affected by actions of 2 of 3 referees who worked the game
July 29, 2008: Sentenced to 15-month prison term (had faced up to 33 months) and three-year term of supervised release
For More Information

Casino Watch Focus – NBA Finals should be about the game and not a wager

AP Video:


House Committee Reviews Study to Legalize Online Gambling

From citizenlink.com:

Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., will ask the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday to conduct a study on how much revenue the U.S. could generate if online gambling were legalized nationwide.

The study is ultimately designed to challenge Congress’ 2006 enactment of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, which prohibits the transfer of funds from a financial institution to Internet gambling companies.

Chad Hills, gambling analyst at Focus on the Family Action, said this is a promotion of online gambling disguised as research.

“Should any government – elected by the people, for the people to serve, protect and maintain order – be associated with an industry that exists through the exploitation of human weakness for the sole purpose of monetary gain?” he asked. “Gambling and its negative impacts more serve to decay and threaten our social fabric than to build and strengthen the very threads of society, which consist largely of marriage and the family.”

FOR MORE INFORMATION
Learn more about Internet gambling legislation.


MO Atty. General candidate scrutinized for funneling of campaign contributions

The Associated Press along with several other news outlets and news blogs are reporting that Sen. Chris Koster has violated campaign finance laws in the state of Missouri by funneling campaign contribtions through outside groups and committees. We have previously reported on the fundraising tactics of Sen. Chris Koster, candidate for MO Attorney General (AG), and his use of money from gambling special interests to fuel his “law and order” campaign for AG:

While at first glance this may seem like an insider-only story, the Turner Report explains that Sen. Koster has turned to gambling special interests dollars to fuel his quest to be the state’s next Attorney General. According to the Turner Report:

Among the other contributors who circumvented contribution limits by giving first to the Economic Growth Committee, which then laundered their cash through the legislative committees were:

Ameristar Casinos, St. Charles and Kansas City, $17,450

The Associated Press account of Sen. Koster’s money-laudering operation is both eye-opening and shocking:

They met at an Italian restaurant in southwest Missouri. A campaign aide for Democratic attorney general candidate Chris Koster and the treasurer for a local Democratic committee. The purpose: a check exchange.

Koster’s aide handed the Democratic official a check from an innocuous-sounding group called the Economic Growth Council, along with a pair of letters she had created _ one from the Economic Growth Council accompanying its money, the other from Koster’s campaign soliciting money from the local political committee.

The letters were formalities. The Democratic official provided Koster’s aide a pair of checks similar in size to the amount she had received.

Just like that, Koster’s campaign channeled nearly $27,000 to itself _ part of the roughly $450,000 from big-time donors that got routed around campaign contribution limits to Koster in a three-month period.

E-mail communications obtained by The Associated Press show Koster’s campaign staff helped direct donors wishing to give more than the state limit to the Economic Growth Council, then coordinated the transfer of that money to local political party committees and onto Koster’s campaign _ a potential violation of an 8-year-old ruling against such orchestration.

Our last poltical contributions report shows that Sen. Koster has become accustomed to recieving donations from a variety of special interest groups, especially gambling special interests. As we compile the latest campaign contribution information from the casino industry, we will provide updates on this story.
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Story Links:

– Political Fix: UPDATED: Mo GOP, Hatfield jumps into the fray over Koster’s fundraising

– The Turner Report: AP confirms Koster money-laundering operation outlined three months ago in Turner Report

– Missouri Political News: Koster’s ‘close consultation’ with Ethics Commission questioned

– Missouri Political News Service: Koster Campaign Busted Laundering Money


MO Ethics Commission makes clarification on Lobbyist Gifts to Elected Officials

In an effort to expose the influx of gifts and political contributions from gambling special interest, we have posted documented stories of elected officials accepting concert tickets, cruises, meals and other monetary gifts. With that aim below is an interesting story from The Turner Report.

From Randy Turner at The Turner Report:

Though the names are carefully blacked out on the opinion, it appears an elected official who has been accepting tickets to entertainment events from lobbyists tried to get a ruling which would allow him or her to accept the tickets, keep one, report that one, and then spread the tickets around to others without having to count them as gifts.

That effort failed.

The opinion, issued June 5, indicates the person requesting the opinion asked the following question:

“If an elected official accepts more than one ticket to a sporting event or an entertainment performance, uses one ticket for his or her use and then give the remainder to another person, not related to him or her and not employed by him or her in an official capacity, does the lobbyist disclose only the value of the ticket used by the elected official or the total of all tickets received and accepted on behalf of the elected official?”

The opinion said that the lobbyist must report the value of all tickets.

Of course, the value of all the tickets must be reported. The whole idea of reporting gifts is so the public can know which lobbyists are lavishing gifts on which elected officials. If the lobbyists are giving the gifts to the elected officials and then those officials turn right around and provide them to others, it is still something that ultimately leaves the elected official feeling kindly toward the lobbyist and whatever special interests he or she represent.

When we see our elected officials trying to get around those reporting requirements, it becomes obvious why the requirements are necessary. Of course, banning all gifts from lobbyists would be the best solution. That would not keep them from exercising their constitutional right to petition the government, it would just allow the public’s business to be conducted in a more businesslike fashion.


States Attempt to Take Gamblers’ Winnings for Overdue Child Support

From Family News In Focus:

Colorado and West Virginia are putting children first.

At least two states have designed a unique way to go after parents who owe child support: They want to take their gambling winnings. Colorado will roll out its plan in July; West Virginia hopes to follow a few months later.

Evelio Silvera, executive director of Casino Watch, said the gambling industry is fighting back.

“The problem is they don’t want to share information that they can’t use to increase their own bottom line,” he said. “That’s the real shame.”

When a jackpot winner fills out the state tax form in Colorado, the casino will perform a background check to check on overdue child support.

West Virginia’s Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) hopes to work directly with casinos to get deadbeat parents to pay up.

Jeremy Dys, executive director of the Family Policy Council of West Virginia, said it’s a good step.

“We applaud the DHHR and those who are seeking to make sure that children who need it the most … get the money back,” he said. “We need to go a little bit further – to strengthen marriages to make sure social problems are treated at home first.”


NBA Finals should be about the game and not a wager

Basketball fans all over the country and the world are preparing for the start of the NBA Finals match-up between the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers tonight. The NBA has focused the build-up to this finals match-up as a clash of two of the most storied and successful franchises in professional basketball, in the hope that casual fans will focus on the on-court action and not building off-court questions concerning gambling.

Since last summer the NBA has had to deal with a variety of questions concerning the integrity of the game when it was found that referee Tim Donaghy was betting on games he officiated and affecting the point spread of those games. According to Wikipedia:

Tim Donaghy is a former professional basketball referee who worked in the National Basketball Association (NBA) for 13 seasons from 1994 to 2007.[4] During his career in the NBA, Donaghy officiated in 772 regular-season games and 20 playoff games.[4] Donaghy resigned from the league on July 9, 2007[5] prior to reports of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for allegations that he bet on games that he officiated during his last two seasons and that he made calls affecting the point spread in those games.[6] On August 15, 2007, Donaghy pleaded guilty to two federal charges related to the investigation. However, he could face more charges at the state level if it is determined that he deliberately miscalled individual games.

While ESPN reports that Donaghy has cooperated with Federal officials investigating the matter, the NBA stills seems to have public opinion problem on their hands. Just a couple of weeks ago it was publicized that former NBA star and current TV basketball analyst Charles Barkely had not repaid gambling debts of approximately $400,000. Ken Berger of Newsday states:

Amid all this made-for-TV excitement, a pesky cloud continues to hang over David Stern and his league. The dark cloud of gambling.

A convicted felon named Tim Donaghy – and to a lesser degree, a gambler in arrears named Charles Barkley – continue to poison Stern’s otherwise happy vision of the NBA.

Barkley has since apologized on national television for the effect this gambling debt has had on him and his family, including a promise to not gamble anymore in the foreseeable future.

The hope for all basketball fans is that the NBA continue to deal with the Tim Donaghy situation in an open and cooperative manner to ensure that future problems of this nature don’t arise and that the integrity of the game is no longer called into question. The bottom line is that the NBA finals like any other basketball game should be enjoyed for the thrill and accomplishments of the athletes on the court and not the wagers made off the court.

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Family News In Focus report

Associated Press story on Charles Barkley


From the Blogosphere: Republican and Democrat Leaders have a night out at the casino

Missouri Political News Service is reporting that current Speaker of the House Rod Jetton (R) along with Sen. Chris Koster (D), Sen. Jason Crowell (R), and Sen. Jeff Smith (D) enjoyed a night of “clubbing” at the Ameristar Casino in St. Charles, MO supposedly at the expense of a campaign committee controlled by House Majority Floor Leader Leader Steve Tilley (R).

According to Missouri Political News Service:

Rod “Village Man” Jetton, Chris “The Imposter” Koster, and Jason “What Rod Said” Crowell were seen at the St. Charles Ameristar Casino this weekend, enjoying all the amenities the gaming giant has to offer. Oh, and Jeff Smith was also there, even though he apparently wasn’t being allowed onto the casino since his court date for breaking the law at the Isle of Capri in Boonville is just a month away. And let’s not forget that Jetton, Smith and others were spotted at the same club back in March to catch of glimpse of Paris Hilton.

The story goes on to state:

What makes the latest Ameristar visit so intriguing besides the Village Law implications and Smith’s indiscretions is that the recent “boys night out” is that it was being paid for by the 106th Campaign Committee controlled by Tilley.

As we previously reported, the House Republican Campaign Committee (HRCC) under the direction of Speaker Jetton did decide to refuse future campaign contributions from casinos. However, Sen. Koster and Sen. Smith have taken several campaign contributions from gambling special interests.

We will be sure to update this story if there are any statements issued by the elected officials involved.