May 29, 2024 2 min read

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Appeals Court Rules against Torch Electronics’ Gambling Lawsuit in Missouri

The latest ruling reaffirmed a dismissal of the company's lawsuit issued by a Circuit Court last year

Missouri is currently among several states that do not offer sports betting. Although supporters are proposing to put the matter up for a vote, the future of the activity remains uncertain. Still, Missouri residents and visitors can currently enjoy bingo, parimutuel wagering on horse races, casino gambling and lottery.

In addition to the aforementioned activities, residents can also use “pre-reveal” or “no-chance” gaming machines that are spread across the state. Such devices are provided by Torch Electronics and can be found across Missouri in bars, gas stations and convenience stores, among other locations.

Such devices have spread across Missouri, despite opponents arguing that they are not entirely legal and operate within a “grey market.” In an effort to protect its business, Torch filed a lawsuit in 2021 that sought to prevent the Missouri Highway Patrol from probing its operations and the legality of its machines.

The legal effort to prevent the Missouri Highway Patrol from gambling investigations hit a brick wall after a Circuit Court Judge dismissed the lawsuit filed by Torch. The decision came in October.

Now, in the latest chapter of the legal battle, the Western District Court of Appeals ruled that courts cannot protect Toch from criminal prosecution in light of potential breaches of the state’s gambling regulations, as announced by the Missouri Independent. The decision, announced Tuesday, effectively upheld the dismissal of Torch’s lawsuit announced by the Circuit Court Judge last year.

Court Cannot Prevent Law Enforcement from Investigating the Legality of the Machines

The unanimous decision reaffirmed that courts cannot be used in a way to prevent criminal investigations, as confirmed by Judge Edward Ardini. He was one out of three judges on the case. Ardini wrote: “It is evident from plaintiffs’ amended petition that their objective in bringing this lawsuit is to enjoin law enforcement from determining the devices are criminal and seizing them.”

Additionally, the Judge pointed out: “We are not persuaded by plaintiffs’ attempts to characterize their claim as one seeking declaratory judgment interpreting a civil statute.”

According to the recent report, it remains unclear what Torch will do next. Chuck Hatfield, an attorney representing the company, confirmed that the latest decision will be discussed before Torch announces how to proceed next.

Journalist

Jerome is a welcome new addition to the Gambling News team, bringing years of journalistic experience within the iGaming sector. His interest in the industry begun after he graduated from college where he played in regular local poker tournaments which eventually lead to exposure towards the growing popularity of online poker and casino rooms. Jerome now puts all the knowledge he's accrued to fuel his passion for journalism, providing our team with the latest scoops online.

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