Missouri Legislative Report
Evelio Silvera, Executive Director
April 14-18, 2008

Much of the attention for those “working the halls” of the Capitol was focused on campaign contribution reports which were released this week. But finding ourselves in the midst of one of the most challenging legislative sessions in our organization’s history, made it easy to forgo speculating about future candidates and campaigns and focus on defeating legislation that would expanded gambling in Missouri.

State Representative Brain Baker’s HB 2420, which would prohibit the Missouri Gaming Commission from issuing any new license to operate excursion gambling boats prior to August 28, 2011, had a public hearing in front of the House Special Committee on General Laws. Our Director of Research and Analysis, Joseph Day, testified in favor of the bill. We explained that both the people and market have reached their limit on gambling in the state as pointed out in Missouri Gaming Commission’s Statewide Market Study. We also provided analysis as to why such a bill would not be harmful to free market capitalism and trade. For further details on our testimony and the committee hearing please read the full story on our news blog at: http://casinowatch.wordpress.com/2008/04/15/house-committee-hears-testimony-on-casino-moratorium-bill/

This week also marked the monthly meeting of the Missouri Gaming Commission which took place in Jefferson City at the Missouri State Trooper Association.

The meeting’s agenda was quite routine with a handful of Hearing Officer recommendations on past disciplinary actions, the consideration of new disciplinary actions, fine settlement agreements, and a special presentation from Pinnacle Entertainment Inc. concerning their South St. Louis County casino project.

Highlights from the meeting include two disciplinary actions taken against casinos. First, during the consideration of new disciplinary actions, Harrah’s North Kansas City was given a $5,000.00 fine for the use of a bad deck during a poker tournament which was not caught by internal controls. Second, during the consideration of settlement agreements, Ameristar Casino St. Charles was originally fined $100,000.00 by the Gaming Commission last year for allowing a patron to act as and assume the role of a gaming official by letting the patron operate and run the stick at a craps table. Ameristar did take the case before a hearing officer but then chose to forgo further hearings by taking responsibility for the violation and settling the matter for $90,000.00.

For the entire analysis of the latest Missouri Gaming Commission meeting as well as a discussion of concerns with the Gaming Commission’s fining system, please read the entire story on our news blog at: http://casinowatch.wordpress.com/2008/04/16/highlights-from-todays-missouri-gaming-commission-meeting/

NEXT WEEK: We are preparing to testify on HB2416 and will continue working on defeating HB 1929 and SB 1052.

Bills currently being worked on:

SB988 Exempts Veterans, service, and fraternal organizations from bingo and pull tab taxes
SB1052 Loss Limit Removal
SB1171 Places a 2 year moratorium on casino licenses
HB1929 Empowers Gaming Commission Executive Director to levy fines
HB2420 Places a 3 year moratorium on casino licenses
HB2232 Limits the number of excursion gambling boat operator licenses
HB1813 Tax Exemption For Bingo
HB2416 Changes the laws regarding dog fighting
HB1864 Gambling Boat Bank Deposits
HB1929 Excursion Gambling Boat Licensees
HB1357 Criminal Nonsupport
HB2043 Loss Limit Removal
HB1402 Compulsive Gamblers
HB1403 Excursion Gambling Boats
HB1682 Loss Limit Removal