Last week, officials near Kansas City used the back end of an excavator bucket to publicly crush five illegal gambling machines to bits. The public was invited.
The public destruction was required by law. But it also made a strong, albeit rare, statement against illegal gambling in Missouri.
Credit Platte County and Platte City with enforcing the state's gambling laws.
Platte City Police Chief Kevin Chrisman said he saw the machines in area convenience stores in 2018 and coordinated with the Platte County Prosecutor's Office on the case.
Platte County Prosecutor Eric Zahnd charged the machines' owner, Integrity Vending LLC, with promoting gambling. The company was found guilty last year and was ordered to pay a fine of $7,500 dollars, according to KQTV2 in St. Joseph.
"That's a problem in the state of Missouri," Zahnd told the TV station. "That's why we took on this case. We want the public to see that these machines will never go back into circulation."
About two dozen similar criminal cases are pending around the state, the Missouri Independent reported.
But their proliferation has mostly gone unchecked. Part of the reason seems to be promoters of the games have tried to make them so they technically comply with the law. Prosecutors, we suspect, are hesitant to take on cases if they don't have the law clearly on their side.
We join the Missouri Gaming Commission in thanking Zahnd for taking action in this case. We encourage other law enforcement and prosecutors to do the same.
Taxes from legal gambling in Missouri helps fund education, as well as veterans and community programs. These illegal gambling machines do not.
Missouri lawmakers need to clarify such machines are illegal.
Meanwhile, we urge consumers not to patronize the machines. Instead, report them to local authorities.