YOUR OPINION: In Missouri, illegal gambling isn’t unlawful

Joseph Plaggenberg,

Jefferson City

Dear Editor,

Did your family see the 888-BETS-OFF billboard on Highway 63 and snitch you out for having a little too much fun? Has your sound investment strategy been mischaracterized as degenerate gambling by those who just don't understand that you're gonna win it big on the next spin?

Well, if you're in Missouri fear not! For the past five years, big money and backdoor lobbying has had your back to the tune of an estimated 14,000 unregulated non-gambling gambling machines (there's really no other way to describe this absurdity) carefully placed almost everywhere Missourians do business in the state.

It's almost certain that you're a stone's throw away from burning through your paycheck, getting a title loan on your vehicle, dipping into Little Jimmy's college fund and even squandering the family farm -- these so-called "pre-reveal" slot machines are in gas stations, restaurants, general stores, you name it. ... I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if they're in the privatized DMVs soon.

There's apparently nothing saying explicitly enough that they can't, and no one who cares enough to do anything about it!

So gamble it all away to see the post-reveals worry free -- although the Missouri State Highway Patrol tried to combat this madness, their common-sense approach fell on deaf ears; the other state agencies and commissions are emasculated or have turned a blind eye; the Attorney General's Office washed their hands of the "complexities" of non-gambling gambling for a sum certain; the state courts recently passed the buck; local prosecutors want to file charges on these machines about as much as expired temp tags; and the General Assembly has been mesmerized by lobbyists slicker than a tongue wagging, good ol' boy car salesman.

Feel free to snub your nose at your family as you gamble it all away, too -- the 13 regulated casinos in Missouri pay significant tax to support education and veterans, as well as the 888 BETS-OFF program, while the non-gambling gambling machines pay no tax and don't get in the way of your investment strategies one bit!

Your family thought they had the upper hand when they snitched you out to the hotline -- but in Missouri, gambling isn't gambling, and all bets are never off.