"First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win." -- Mahatma Gandhi

Illegal Slot Machines Hurt Small Businesses & Steal From Our Communities

December 9th, 2019 by mopns_admin · No Comments

Image result for illegal; gray slot machines missouri
By Maryann Manion

There is a popular musical from the 1950s titled Guys and Dolls. Perhaps you’ve heard of this classic or even seen it. It’s a humorous story that follows the failed plots of illegal gambling ring organizers. A quote from one of the characters has crossed my mind multiple times recently:

“One of these days in your travels, a guy is going to show you a brand-new deck of cards on which the seal is not yet broken. Then this guy is going to offer to bet you that he can make the jack of spades jump out of this brand-new deck of cards and squirt cider in your ear. But, son, do not accept this bet, because as sure as you stand there, you’re going to wind up with an ear full of cider.”

Essentially, if someone offers you a deal that sounds too good to be true, it probably is—especially in the context of illegal gambling.

The reason this quote keeps nagging at my memory is because of the recent hearings in Jefferson City about illegal slot machines. These machines have arrived without invitation and have been set up all across the state. Despite being completely forbidden, the apathetic attitude that politicians have taken towards the issue is shocking. These machines prey on the good-naturedness that is token of our state, taking full advantage of our trust.

Lobbyists have recently testified that allowing these machines to operate will stimulate the local economy and add millions in revenue. An enticing promise, to be sure. Yet, until politicians choose to do something, these machines are currently funneling potential millions OUT of the state’s education programs and into the pockets of special interests. It’s hard to believe that they will suddenly become generous if given free rein to continue.

Arguments have been made that without these machines small business owners would suffer. This is the exact opposite of the truth. Illegal slots hurt local businesses because they encourage loitering and entice money away from in-store purchases—money that is now being syphoned out of the Missouri tax system. Unlike regulated gambling and other business transactions, money given to these slots is not reinvested in our schools or communities. If small business owners believe they need illegal machines just to stay afloat, they have been completely hoodwinked by these shady out-of-state operators into paying to be the hosts of a scam.

Not supporting these illegal machines isn’t an affront to personal freedom. Despite desperate attempts to push this red herring, no one is proposing that gambling shouldn’t be allowed in Missouri. This is about protecting consumers and a basic respect for our state constitution. These illegal games currently do neither of these. They refuse to invest in our communities and they offer no honest answers about the fairness of their games by evading regulation.

When these supporters talk about an increase in revenue, they are focused on their own pockets—not the coffers of Missouri. They are fine with breaking the law now and making a profit, so it’s doubtful they will suddenly choose to follow the rules when they are ordered to adhere to a high tax rate. If avoiding taxes is working for them, why question their streak of luck, right?

The Missouri Gaming Commission doesn’t trust these machines and neither do I. Fictional tales of illegal gambling may be comical when exaggerated on the stage, but it isn’t funny to see our neighbors suffer from such schemes in real life. Despite the attractive guarantees of financial gain, my intuition tells me it’s too good to be true. If these machines remain, Missouri may just wind up with an ear full of cider.

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Related:

The Weekend Report (KFTK 97.1): Political consultant Gregg Keller on gaming machines in MO.

Video: Congressman Clay Wants to “Stop the Scourge of Online Gambling

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