SB 0546 Reorganizes authority for licensing and regulation of excursion gambling boats and gaming
LR Number:1281S.06C Fiscal Note:1281-06
Committee:Pensions and General Laws
Last Action:05/18/01 - S Inf Calendar S Bills for Perfection w/SCS Journal page:
Title:SCS SB 546
Effective Date:August 28, 2001
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Current Bill Summary

SCS/SB 546 - Under current law, the Missouri Gaming Commission has authority over the economic development aspects, licensing, regulation and regulatory enforcement of excursion gambling boats and gaming in Missouri. In order to create critical checks and balances within the regulatory framework and to provide for more effective investigation and enforcement in the area of gambling boats and gaming, this act creates the Missouri Gaming Regulatory Board which will work in conjunction with the Commission in the licensing, regulatory and enforcement aspects of the industry.

CREATION OF THE MISSOURI GAMING REGULATORY BOARD - The Board is composed of three members appointed by the Governor for staggered three-year terms and is assigned to the Department of Public Safety. Upon referral by the Commission, the Board will conduct suitability investigations of applicants for excursion boat licenses, gaming operator licenses, supplier licenses and certain gaming-related occupational licenses. The Commission will continue to perform the function of choosing from among competing applicants and ultimately issuing such licenses, but either the Board or the Commission may deem an applicant unsuitable for a license.

The Board will also take over the enforcement and sanctioning/disciplining aspects of excursion gambling boats and gaming. The Board will be empowered to enforce applicable laws, rules and regulations and the Board may restrict, suspend or revoke the license of, or otherwise sanction, licensees for any of a number of specified acts, such as: dealing with unlicensed suppliers; engaging in fraud, deception, misrepresentation, extortion or bribery; failing to cooperate with a board investigation; or failing to appear and provide testimony to the board. The Board is authorized to investigate violations and has both power of subpoena and authority to enter into agreements with other investigatory agencies (e.g., IRS and Mo. A.G.) to aid in its investigations.

The Board will create and enforce a code of ethics for its members and employees and the act contains strict restrictions prohibiting blood or business relationships between and among Board members, applicants, licensees, suppliers, investigatory authorities, appointed officials and others.

NEW CRIME OF "GAMING CORRUPTION" - This act creates the crime of"gaming corruption", a Class D felony (punishment: 5 years or less and/or a fine of $5,000 or less, or double the gain ($20,000 maximum)). Any person convicted of this crime is barred for life from Missouri gambling boats. A person commits the crime if such person performs any of several enumerated acts for a prohibited purpose. The prohibited purposes include:

1. Influencing a decision or investigation of the Board or the Commission; 2. Influencing the outcome of any gambling game; or 3. Profiting from the influence of any Board or Commission decision or the outcome of any gambling game.

The prohibited acts include:

1. Entering into a gaming-related or profiteering contract with a "government official" (i.e., a Board or Commission member or employee, a public official of the state or of a city or county, a highway patrolman or assistant attorney general assigned to investigate/regulate gaming, or a person who was in any such capacity within the last 2 years); 2. Employing or offering employment to a government official; 3. Selling or giving a gaming-related business interest to a government official; 4. Giving any gift or gratuity to a government official; 5. Engaging in ex parte communications with a government official; or 6. Engaging in any of the acts prohibited above while being a government official, or within 2 years after being a government official.

EXISTING MISSOURI GAMING COMMISSION - This act curtails the jurisdiction of the existing Commission. The Commission will continue to issue all licenses and will continue to have regulatory authority over the operational aspects and all taxing and economic development aspects of excursion gambling boats and gaming. The Commission's former authority in the areas of investigation and sanctioning/disciplining of licensees, however, is shifted to the new Board. The Commission continues to have subpoena power and authority to investigate violations of its rules and regulations concerning operation of excursion gambling boats (e.g., cruising and docking restrictions) and gaming (e.g., loss limits, wagering restrictions, approval of games). The Commission also continues to collect and distribute excursion admission fees and continues to regulate the assessment, collection and disbursement of taxes on adjusted gross receipts from gambling games.

This act strengthens the subpoena power of the Commission and authorizes the Commission to prohibit any applicant for a license from beginning construction of a casino until such time as the Board has found the applicant to be suitable. The act also requires applicants for excursion gambling boat licenses to provide an affirmative action plan and to report on the effectiveness of the plan.

The act provides that gaming-related licenses are a revocable privilege, not a vested right. It also clarifies the requirement that applicants and licensees cooperate with the Commission and the Board in the licensing process and in any investigations. The act requires the design and aesthetics of gambling boats to be consistent with the riverboat history of Missouri or of the home dock city or county.

The act also caps the number of excursion gambling boat licenses at 15 and caps the total number of slot machines which may be located on any single excursion gambling boat at 1,900. The Commission may require gambling boat licensees and gaming equipment suppliers to remove any slot machines that are in excess of the maximum number allowed. Additionally, the Board may restrict, suspend or revoke the license of any licensee who operates an excursion gambling boat with a number of slot machines in excess of the maximum number allowed.