Missouri has 13 riverboat casinos which together feature 19,000 slot machines and 500 table games. However, Missourians don’t need to go to a licensed and regulated gambling vessel to try their luck.
If you walk into a convenience store, truck stop, or watering hole, there’s a possibility you’ll find what’s called a “no chance” video gaming terminal. The uncontrolled and untaxed machines have become the reason for almost 100 complaints filed with the Missouri Gaming Commission, and prosecutors in a number of counties are questioning their legality.
However, Governor Mike Parson (R), has refrained from taking a side.
Parson told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,
“We first need to clarify what machines constitute gambling and what machines are video games. The distinction between chance and skill determining the outcome of a game is fundamental to the legal analysis of whether operation of a machine violates state law.”
As reported by casino.org, Parson added, “Games of chance are subject to gaming laws, and if the people want to change the gaming laws, they have the ability to do so using the legislative process, through a ballot initiative, or constitutional amendment.”
Last year, the Missouri Gaming Commission said that the types of machines distributed by Torch Eectronics, Missouri-based manufacturer, are “gambling devices.” Torch rebuffed that opinion, saying their products “fall outside the definition of a ‘gambling device’ under Missouri law and are entirely legal.”
Gregg Keller, Torch spokesperson says the machines have programmed outcomes, and come with no element of chance unlike slot machines. To produce outcomes, a slot machine uses random number generators.
Keller explained, “We’re confident that as we continue to discuss our no-chance game machines with policy makers, they’ll come to agree with scores of local prosecutors and law enforcement officials that our No-Chance Game Machines do not violate Missouri law.”
The state defines gambling as “a contest of chance.” The machines in question feature labels that tell players, “No contest/no chance amusement device.”
The sticker adds, “This amusement device is designed to offer no contest of chance, as the outcome is known by players before any amusement game is initiated.”
Great Lakes Amusement, a Wisconsin manufacturer of “no chance games,” explains, “Each and every prize to be awarded is predetermined and placed in the list of prizes before the software is loaded into the machine. Since the user may view the entire list of prize outcomes that will occur at their balance, in the order in which they will occur, every outcome which may entitle the user to a prize is entirely predictable by the user.”
In June Platte County Prosecuting Attorney Eric Zahnd filed a complaint against Kansas-based gaming manufacturer Integrity Gaming LLC for providing local businesses with the no chance video gaming terminals.
Some other country prosecutors are opposing the gaming machines.
Polk County Prosecuting Attorney Ken Ashlock is one, and he says because the terminals aren’t unregulated and therefore not required to pay out at a minimum rate as slots do, “People are just getting cheated on and they don’t know it.”
Due to his relationship with Torch, Parson might be slow to challenge the machines. The company contributed $20,000 to the governor’s 2020 campaign, and its activist Steve Tilley is an old political friend of Parson.