Our Opinion: Loans by casinos a losing deal

News Tribune editorial

A strong contender for worst idea of the legislative session is a proposal to allow casinos to loan money to gamblers.

If casinos can get into the lending business, what’s next — slot machines in bank lobbies?

The idea, sponsored by state Rep. Scott Largent, R-Clinton, is a stinker. What’s worse is, after it was attached to a banking bill last week, the measure was approved by a 13-1 vote by the House Financial Institutions Committee.

Proponents contend the change would help lure high-stakes gamblers, including professional athletes visiting St. Louis and Kansas City.

Perhaps, but that target group represents only a minuscule fraction of a casino’s clientele.

And although visiting professional athletes may enjoy sufficient wealth to repay loans easily, other casino customers — particularly gambling addicts — may endure financial and other woes.

That concern was voiced by respondents to our social media sites, the Missouri Council on Problem Gambling Concerns and other lawmakers, including St. Louis Democratic Rep. Jamilah Nasheed, who said: “I don’t think gamblers should take out loans. You have gamblers who are addicted. It hurts their family. They lose their property. The divorce rate is high.”

Casino gambling in Missouri offers a vivid example of the slippery slope of grotesque transformation.

Missouri voters in 1992 approved casino gambling based on an image of historic replicas of riverboats cruising waterways while offering fine dining and entertainment, including gambling with limited losses.

In the past two decades, that vision has evaporated as lawmakers continue to be broken to the saddle of the casino industry.

Loans by casinos are a losing deal for Missourians.

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