Sen. Dave Schatz’s Legislative Column for Oct. 22, 2019

Illegal Gambling Machines Siphon Resources Away from Local Schools and Communities

Hearings conducted by the Missouri House of Representatives Special Interim Committee on Gaming have brought much-needed scrutiny to Missouri’s rapidly growing, and illegal, video gambling machine industry. Legislators have heard testimony from the Gaming Commission, Missouri Lottery, Highway Patrol and state prosecutors that these nearly 14,000 machines, which have become common at truck stops and convenience stores, are illegal, unregulated and siphoning money away from local schools and communities.

Senator Dave Schatz updates the Chesterfield Chamber of Commerce on the upcoming 2020 legislative session.

The machines work like slot machines—a player inserts money, places a wager and winnings are collected from a cashier. The Missouri Gaming Commission ruled in July that the machines’ functions constitute gambling, which is prohibited outside of Missouri’s 13 licensed casinos.

May Scheve Reardon, the executive director of the Missouri Lottery, testified that these illegal gaming machines have already diverted $50 million away from the lottery profits that support schools. Likewise, gaming regulators are concerned these machines will reduce business at casinos—hurting local tax revenues. In Illinois, similar video gaming machines have overtaken bets placed at casinos and led to measurable declines in casino business.

Senator Dave Schatz, Lt. Governor Mike Kehoe and other lawmakers visit R.J. Liebe Athletic Lettering Company in Chesterfield, Missouri.

Missouri voters have been clear since they legalized casinos and created the lottery that gaming should be strictly regulated and should support local communities and public education. This industry of illegal gaming machines has now grown to nearly match the number of casino slot machines—doubling their footprint in the state—flying in the face of the law and the sentiment expressed by Missouri voters. I believe in the rule of law and will be doing everything I can to support efforts to remove illegal machines and safeguard our school funding and local tax revenues.

It is an honor to serve you in the Missouri Senate. Please do not hesitate to contact my office at (573) 751-3678 or by email at if you have any questions.