CasiNO Watch
April 21, 2007
Please forward to family and friends as quickly as possible.

April 20, 2007
Evelio Silvera, Executive Director

Protect the Loss Limit...Protect Our Families
Please Ask Your State Senator to Vote NO on SB430

Definition of the $500 Loss Limit: Under Missouri Law, casino gamblers can lose up to $500 every two hours. If a gambler loses $500 before the two hours are up, he/she must stop gambling. When the two hour time period has passed, they are free to lose another $500.

Sen. Shields' (R) legislation would lead to the largest expansion of gambling in Missouri in over a decade.

Most importantly, the loss limit is a significant deterrent to the use of Missouri casinos as a vehicle for illegal money laundering. Sen. Shields' own party platform states, “The Missouri Republican Party supports the maintenance of Missouri's visionary casino loss limits to protect all citizens from terrorist and other criminal elements, laundering of cash capital used to fund their activities.”

The idea that lawmakers would want to remove the loss limit which would expand gambling and threaten the economic stability and safety of their own constituents is a truly bad piece of public policy. The negative effects that this massive expansion of gambling would have socially and economically on Missouri far outweigh any of the potential benefits.

Yet as the legislative session has rolled along our battle to protect Missouri families by protecting the loss limit has entered its most pivotal days. As you may know SB430, known as the “Smart Start” Scholarship found its way to the floor of the Missouri Senate by being placed on the informal calendar, meaning that our opponents, led by Senate Majority Floor Leader Charlie Shields can bring up this bill at any moment.

We have prepared handouts with new information for each Senator. Along with these educational materials, we worked diligently to consult with several Senators and their staffs on possible amendments and tactics to defeat SB430.

We have been able to persuade several Senators to vote no on SB430 due to phone calls from concerned constituents. Almost every Senate office commented on the positive effect our constituent calls were having on educating Senators about the importance and public support for protecting the loss limit. If you haven’t done so already, please visit our website and complete our latest action alert by contacting the office of your Senator.

The battle to defeat SB430 is now on the floor of the Senate. Sen. Chuck Purgason (R) was the first champion of the session. Sen. Purgason offered an amendment that would have stripped the loss limit provision out of this bill. When the votes were counted there were 14 YES votes (12 Rep and 2 Dem) and 18 NO votes. 2 senators refused to vote. So the amendment failed. That was a disappointment because that would have been the end of SB430 for good. But, we are not discouraged at all because we are confident it will go down as other principled senators step up to the plate to carry on the fight.

One such senator is Matt Bartle (R) from Lee’s Summit who took up the battle next. His strong and clever maneuverings got the Senate into such a discussion of variations that heads began to swim in all sorts of possibilities for where this bill might go. Sen. Bartle led the charge in an all-night filibuster in which he articulated the strong public sentiment for keeping the loss limits in place. At 3:30 a.m. the frustrated floor leader Sen. Shields withdrew his bill in favor of trying again some other day. We are now waiting day by day for SB430 to come up again.

"Shields says he's going to let gambling lobbyists work with Senators who object to various parts of the bill to resolve problems." - 3/28/07

Sen. John Loudon (R) is prepared to offer amendments that would help defeat SB430. Sen. Charlie Shields has done his best to interrupt debate on the bill and work closely on deals with casino representatives to appease the opponents of gambling expansion and SB430. But, we now know we have 14 votes against the bill and only need a few more before the Senate finally votes on this legislation.

Do you know where your senator stands on this bill? Do you know the extent to which your senator has taken campaign contributions from casinos which just might influence his/her vote on this important bill?

How about calling your senator now. Express your feelings on this matter in a cordial but firm manner. We need your help!

Thank you for your support, the battle is still raging and you can make a difference by letting your voice be heard before it is too late!