Rasheen Aldridge, a county lawmaker from St. Louis, has expressed a strong desire to file a bill that, if passed, would change the way slot machines operate at gas stations. Over the summer, he wondered whether or not video slots were legal in places where people come to fill up their cars and have some free time for recreation.
There are now 13 legal land-based casinos in Missouri, and police are effectively fighting the rest. And we are talking not only about the full-fledged underground gambling casino but also about the single slot machines that operators set in the points of large gatherings of people. The state police even created a special unit to investigate gambling, which began its work in 2019.
Under Missouri law, it is illegal to have any slot machines outside of legal casinos. Moreover, the owner of a slot machine is considered an offender even if he did not place it on the premises himself but only maintains the slot machine.
However, enterprising gambling organizers have found an effective way to place slot machines in gas stations and other places without breaking the law. They have adapted the slot machine so that the result of the round is known before the rotation of the reels, which means the device does not fall under gambling.
It works like this: the player sees whether the next spin will be winning or losing. For example, in three spins, there will be a guaranteed win, but its size is unknown. And to get to it, it is necessary to lose three bets.
The owners of such devices argue that they are really similar to the slot machines from the casinos, but the principle is different, which means they do not violate the law. The police, not knowing how to deal with such machines, did not yet dare to stop their work, but all could change after the introduction of the bill from Rasheen Aldridge, who insists that they are regular slot machines.
The chairman of the Missouri Gambling Commission insists that the law should be changed, making the status of such devices clear. So far, neither law enforcement nor the commission itself has the authority to ban their operation.
However, not everyone believes that these slot machines should be banned. Platt Eric Zand, the county attorney, believes that these devices should be legalized because the outcome in them can be seen before the player even makes a bet. He agrees that if a slot machine shows the outcome in advance, it is still considered gambling, but he doesn’t see anything negative about it. The main thing is that the results are 100% honest, and users are not cheated at the beginning of the game.
While everyone is waiting for a decision from the Missouri State’s Attorney, hundreds of these slot machines continue to operate in the county. In addition, during 2022, the prosecutor’s office has prosecuted 31 cases involving gambling or slot machine advertising in Barry, Christian, and Camden counties. Websites with gambling and lucrative bonuses regularly appear online. For example, users can easily find a full list of no deposit casinos and start playing for money. However, not all operators are working legally and honestly.
Recall that many states in America have already legalized gambling or at least sports betting. The issue of legalization is up to the state government, and neither the president nor anyone from Washington can influence it. In more conservative states, gambling remains banned, but every year there are more and more Americans who want to spend time in land-based or online casinos. The time has probably come for Missouri as well. We will find out very soon.