Friday, April 27, 2007

Missouri’s Casino Loss Limit May Be Removed

Unless pro-family voters get immediately active, Missouri’s gambling lobby may prevail this year in their 15 year assault on loss limits.

Most Missourians know the history. In 1992, paddleboats were going to saunter along the Missouri and Mississippi rivers for tranquil riverboat gambling cruises. But once the voters approved the measure, the paddleboats never moved, and the boats weren’t boats at all, but massive buildings that didn’t budge and the gamblers came, losing personal wealth that went pouring into the pockets of greedy out-of-state casino owners.

The one thing that remains from that original proposal is a $500 loss limit every two hours. It now has a giant bulls-eye painted on it in the form of SB 430. The bill bears the innocuous title “Smart Start Scholarship Program”. Hey, it worked before, why not now. Just tell Missourians money is going to schools and that their kids will get some scholarship dough. They’ll go for it.

Yet tucked away on page 9 of the 17 page bill is the little phrase: “..provided that the commission shall not establish any maximum loss limit…” Here are three reasons why you should encourage your senator to oppose SB 430.

1) On the principle of the matter. Missourians voted in the loss limit in the early 1990s and it is the only part of the original legislation that remains intact to protect Missouri families.

2) The loss limit serves as a great protection to families of problem gamblers and thus protects our state from expenses relating to gambling.

Many gamblers can easily lose $25,000 in a short time span. Could you imagine the devastation caused to the families of compulsive gamblers in our state if the loss limit is removed?

Mark Andrews, a tireless crusader opposing gambling’s further devastation of Missouri lives and head of Casino Watch, in a June 20, 2003 letter to the editor of the St. Louis Business Journal, Andrews wrote:

A 2001 study by two economists, Grinols and Mustard, from the Universities of Georgia and Illinois, suggest through their method of calculating the cost of casino gambling in the United States, that Missouri's annual cost may easily be $800 million. The costs they enumerate are crime, suicide, bankruptcy, courts, prosecution, etc. Even if casino taxes to state government were $300 million, the costs far outweigh the income. No business can operate with a negative bottom line, and government shouldn't either.

3) Also, the loss limit serves to deter criminals from money laundering. This is why Attorney General Jay Nixon opposes the removal of loss limits. You can read his letter here.

This past week, SB 430 was almost dead through another one of the principled filibusters of Matt Bartle (District 8—Lee’s Summit). But after a 9 hour filibuster that spanned Monday night and Tuesday morning, Republican floor leader and bill sponsor Charlie Shields (District 34—St. Joseph) said he would keep the Senate in session over the weekend if that was what was required to get his gambling friendly bill passed. With some strange maneuvering, the filibuster ended with another tax hike to the casinos; but the $500 loss limit repeal still firmly in place, with a squeaker of a vote--17 yes, 16 no.

Please contact your Senator on Monday (April 30) and politely, but firmly ask them to vote against SB 430. The bill still needs a “third reading” before it gets passed on to the House. Protect Missouri families. Call your senator and urge a NO on SB 430.

Frank Barnitz (573) 751-2108
Matt Bartle (573) 751-1464
Joan Bray (573) 751-2514
Victor Callahan (573) 751-3074
Norma Champion (573) 751-2583
Dan Clemens (573) 751-4008
Maida Coleman (573) 751-2606
Jason Crowell (573) 751-2459
Rita Heard Days (573) 751-4106
Kevin Engler (573) 751-3455
Michael Gibbons (573) 751-2853
Jack Goodman (573) 751-2234
Chuck Graham (573) 751-2162
Timothy P. Green (573) 751-2420
John Griesheimer (573) 751-3678
Chuck Gross (573) 751-8635
Jolie Justus (573) 751-2788
Harry Kennedy (573) 751-2126
Chris Koster (573) 751-1430
Brad Lager (573) 751-1415
John Loudon (573) 751-9763
Rob Mayer (573) 751-3859
Ryan McKenna (573) 751-1492
Gary Nodler (573) 751-2306
Chuck Purgason (573) 751-1882
Luann Ridgeway (573) 751-2547
Scott Rupp (573) 751-1282
Delbert Scott (573) 751-8793
Charlie Shields (573) 751-9476
Wes Shoemyer (573) 751-7852
Jeff Smith (573) 751-3599
Bill Stouffer (573) 751-1507
Carl Vogel (573) 751-2076
Yvonne Wilson (573) 751-9758

By the way, here’s how the votes went down on SB 430 this past week. Senator Maida Coleman was absent (illness). A "NO" vote was against the repeal of the loss limit.

NO -
1. Frank Barnitz
2. Matt Bartle
3. Joan Bray
4. Jason Crowell
5. Mike Gibbons
6. Jack Goodman
7. John Greisheimer
8. Chuck Gross
9. Harry Kennedy
10. Brad Lager
11. John Loudon
12. Rob Mayer
13. Chuck Purgason
14. Delbert Scott
15. Bill Stouffer
16. Yvonne Wilson

1. Victor Callahan
2. Norma Champion
3. Dan Clemens
4. Rita Days
5. Kevin Engler
6. Chuck Graham
7. Tim Green
8. Jolie Justice
9. Chris Koster
10. Ryan McKenna
11. Gary Noddler
12. Luanne Ridgeway
13. Scott Rupp
14. Charlie Shields
15. Wes Shoemyer
16. Jeff Smith
17. Carl Vogel

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