American Gaming Association Criticizes Missouri AG

American Gaming Association Criticizes Missouri AG

Posted on: June 21, 2023, 12:26h. 

Last updated on: June 20, 2023, 12:34h.

American Gaming Association (AGA) President and CEO Bill Miller say Missouri’s Republican Attorney General Andrew Bailey is failing to uphold the public duties that the elected office he holds requires.

American Gaming Association Missouri skill gaming
Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey is stepping aside from a lawsuit against the state for its handling of unlicensed gaming machines that have proliferated convenience stores and restaurants across the Show-Me State. The head of the American Gaming Association believes Bailey’s ties to unregulated gaming manufacturers are why he has excused himself. (Image: AP)

Bailey in April announced he would remove himself from a lawsuit brought by gaming manufacturer Torch Electronics and Warrenton Oil that accuses the Missouri State Highway Patrol of harassment and a “concerted campaign of threats” against video gaming operations. The slots-like gaming machines offer cash prizes.

Founded in 2015, Torch Electronics manufactures and distributes the slot-like machines that the company calls “No Chance Games.” The games operate similarly to a Las Vegas slot but differ in that they reveal the outcome of the next spin before the person playing the machine makes their wager.

Players bet on spins that they know will lose in order to reach the next outcome. The slight difference in the operations, Torch officials say, renders the games immune from Missouri’s gambling laws.

AGA Scolds AG

Bailey cited an unspecified conflict of interest in recusing himself from the Torch lawsuit. Torch games are found in dozens of convenience stores owned and operated by Warrenton Oil. The state will instead need to hire a private law firm to defend the state police in the litigation.

Bailey’s critics say the state attorney general’s withdrawal from the litigation is because he’s received significant campaign contributions from Torch and Warrenton. Miller agrees.

Why does Attorney General Bailey balk at his duty to protect Missourians from these bad actors? Either he fails to understand the severity of the problem, or — more likely — he is letting campaign donations from special interests get in the way. As the St. Louis Post-Dispatch has reported, Bailey has accepted tens of thousands of dollars from PACs (political action committees) that are funded in part by the owners of these unlicensed machines or their lobbyists,” Miller argued in an op-ed published this week in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Miller argues that Bailey’s position requires that the interests of the Missouri people come before his political ambitions. The nation’s chief gaming lobbyist, who represents the legal gaming industry in Washington, DC, says gaming machines such as the ones in question aren’t regulated and provide no tax benefit.

Miller added that the unlicensed gaming terminals in Missouri typically come with worse odds than regulated slots found aboard one of the state’s 13 licensed commercial riverboats. Miller cited research conducted on behalf of the AGA that found riverboat slot machines keep on average seven cents of every $1 wagered, while unregulated machines keep nearly 25 cents.

Gateway to Crime

Somewhat ironically, Miller in his op-ed seemingly takes a page out of the anti-gambling playbook in declaring that unregulated gaming often leads to heightened crime and drug activity.

More than just illegal gambling operations, these machines often further endanger communities by funding additional illicit activity like drugs, weapons, money laundering, and bringing crime to communities,” Miller said.

Miller referenced a 2020 account that saw a 7-Eleven employee murdered by criminals who were tipped off that the convenience store regularly held significant quantities of cash to pay their No Chance Games prizes.

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