May 31, 2023 3 min read


Missouri Attorney General’s Stance on Unregulated Gambling Sparks Controversy

AG Andrew Bailey refused to take a stance against the growing issue as lobbying efforts continue to hinder all meaningful progress

The issue of unregulated gambling in Missouri once again stirred controversy when Attorney General Andrew Bailey described the matter as “complex” despite rising complaints about unregulated machines. Bailey’s ties to pro-gambling lobbying groups and his withdrawal from a related high-profile lawsuit did little to ease tensions. With no solution in sight, Missouri’s gray market will likely continue to thrive.

Illegal Gambling Machines Are Not a New Concern

Bailey’s recent evasive statements on gambling in the state are not surprising following his past stances. In April, the AG withdrew from a hallmark case addressing the gray market for gambling machines. Seven other plaintiffs argued they had suffered damages by the illegal operations of the thousands of devices currently available in the state, seeking compensation from the owners of the venues hosting them.

Missouri has spent the past few years embattled with Torch Electronics and Warrenton Oil, the businesses manufacturing and distributing the controversial machines. Coincidentally, both companies contributed tens of thousands to a political action committee supporting Bailey. His decision to withdraw from the lawsuit was ostensibly motivated by a conflict of interests, but the AG notably did not return the funds.

Lobbying Pressures Continue to Impede Progress

With lobbying groups continuing to muddle the waters, meaningful progress remains difficult. Bailey’s recent comments reflect a severe lack of political will despite growing public discontent. The AG argued that illegal slot machine complaints were too diverse and must be reviewed case-by-case. He also noted that not all such games violated the law due to the vagueness of the current legislation.

It’s impossible to make a blanket determination that everything that looks like an illegal gaming machine must, therefore, by definition, be an illegal gaming machine.

Missouri AG Andrew Bailey

Bailey argued that illegal video gambling cases were too minor for state prosecutors and must be handled locally. Such statements starkly contrast the rising number of complaints regarding the issue. Missouri’s Gaming Commission, the official state regulator, has received over 170 complaints regarding illegal machines since the start of the year.

Citizens are increasingly worried about the rapid proliferation of such devices, with many complaining about businesses refusing to pay out winnings. Lacking regulation means authorities are unable to interfere. Such devices are also untaxed, undermine regulated gambling businesses, and pose significant societal risks.

Despite several ongoing lawsuits, lobbying groups have successfully hampered all legislative efforts to regulate the current gray zone. Missouri’s troubles closely mirror the situation in Pennsylvania, where the proliferation of skill games raised similar concerns. Sadly, a sore lack of political will means the Show Me State will not see any meaningful reforms soon.

Deyan is an experienced writer, analyst, and seeker of forbidden lore. He has approximate knowledge about many things, which he is always willing to apply when researching and preparing his articles. With a degree in Copy-editing and Proofreading, Deyan is able to ensure that his work writing for GamblingNews is always up to scratch.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *