Thousands of video slot machines could pop up all over Missouri
Missouri could look a little more like Las Vegas if a new bill in the state legislature becomes law.
House Bill 423 would make legal gambling on thousands of video slot machines all across the state. Supporters say it could bring in $100-million in the first year, but opponents say it's not worth the cost.
The proposal was written by state Rep. Dan Shaul, R-Jefferson County. It allows any authorized Missouri Lottery retailer that sells alcohol to put in up to five video slot machines. Fraternal and veteran organizations would be allowed to add 10 video slot machines.
The plan could impact convenience stores, truck stops and bars.
Step inside American Legion Post 639 on Scenic Road in Springfield, and these machines already set them apart.
"We've had them for about 2 years and we have people that come just for the games, but they also will buy a coke or a beer," said Post commander Darin Hargis. He says they are a money maker, and then some.
"It draws people in, they don't know we have the games, they come in to buy lottery tickets when the lottery goes up. They see the games and then they see what we do for the community, and then they want to get involved," Hargis said. "It's great."
Cash from the Legion's machines is what pays the utilities.
Hargis is hoping the machines don't pop up everywhere, because he wants his Post to stay set apart.
Some think expanding the number of machines is just irresponsible.
"I just really don't agree with that. I think there is an appropriate place for those, in fact I saw someone over the weekend with a toddler on their lap playing those slot machines and I just feel like that was inappropriate," said Rene Rice of Springfield.
The bill would prohibit anyone under 21 years old from playing the machines, but opponents fear there would be no good way to police that.
The potential revenue would be split among the establishment, the local municipality or county, and public education.
KY3 reached out to the Missouri Lottery for comment-- they told us they do not comment on pending legislation. Meanwhile, the Missouri Gaming Administration is against the expansion.
The bill is working its way through the state House, we will keep you posted on its progress.