When the legality of games is unclear, police departments and local state highway patrols are left with picking up the pieces, identifying and investigating hot spots. For the state of Missouri, these are the pre-reveal games that are now growing exponentially in numbers.
Slowly brewing a legal conundrum, pre-reveal gambling machines have become a problem in the state of Missouri. One year ago, in June 2021, the Missouri State Highway Patrol (MSHP) conducted multiple raids across Springfield, taking a grip on these kinds of machines, located in internet stations and gas stations.
35 of them were taken from a single “hot spot” – as Capt. Fred Beck from the Springfield Police Department (SPD) calls the locations of seized machines – in the face of the local Plaza Shopping Center. It is apparently faring better this June, with the increased Springfield Police Department (SPD) police presence. The KY3 reports on Capt. Fred Beck says “Where Plaza shopping center is located, happens to be one of the first hot spots we’ve identified,” continuing to explain that “So, it’s probably gotten a little bit more enforcement throughout time.”
Capt. John Hotz with MSHP’s public information and education division says that even one year later “nothing has changed” from their point of view, clarifying that “We get calls for the devices, we conduct investigations, and then turn them over to the prosecutor.”
Games, Laws Unchanged Full Year Later
So, raids continue to this day, but thanks to the fog surrounding pre-reveal games regulation, the machines are spreading like wildfire across the entire state, with multiple out-of-state companies installing the alleged unregulated video gambling machines in convenience stores, bars, and even restaurants.
This is, of course, great news for the owners of those businesses, since for them it means increased revenue and more entertainment provided to their customers. However, with the undecided legal status of the games installed, many of these establishments might quickly find themselves in breach, if legal winds start blowing in the direction of more regulation.
Let’s not forget about the lottery, since if these machines continue to grow in numbers, lottery ticket sales might see a steep drop, as gamers’ money gets redirected to the shiny new game in town. Easy access to pre-reveal games is definitely making this a possibility, but it still remains to be seen exactly what the effects of installing so many new machines with a questionable legal status would be on the state’s gaming industry.
There was a point in May, when the Missouri Gaming Commission deemed these types of machines “gambling devices”, making them legal to operate only inside licensed casinos. This is the perfect ground for MSHP to have these games considered against the law. However, since legislative efforts to officially name these machines “illegal” have failed, it’s basically all back to square one. This is mostly thanks to the efforts of Torch Electronics – one of the most popular manufacturers of these machines throughout the state.
Torch is heavily lobbying against legal clarification, donating more than $240,000 to local political action committees (PACs) that have strived to achieve it in some quality. Publicly, Torch’s stand is that their machines are not gambling devices, and hence should not be regulated as such, however, they do resemble slot machines quite a lot when you see them in person. Torch’s machines might skirt around the law, but that can be easily solved if its machines become the subject of it.