Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Gambling Supporters Want End to Missouri's Loss Limit $500 Cap Lets Illinois, Kansas Make Inroads, They Say

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Gambling Supporters Want End to Missouri's Loss Limit $500 Cap Lets Illinois, Kansas Make Inroads, They Say

Article excerpt

Missouri gambling interests say they're taking a loss on the state's loss limits.

This year they are expected to mount another campaign in the Missouri Legislature to remove the $500 cap on how much gamblers can lose during each two-hour pretend cruise on Missouri's nine riverboat casinos.

Missouri is the only state that limits gamblers' losses. People who want to be able to risk more are going elsewhere, industry sources say. They point to a growing penetration of the market by the Casino Queen i n East St. Louis and the Alton Belle, and to the advent of tribal gaming in eastern Kansas. They also note that for every $1 in gross gaming receipts that Missouri's boats take in, they pay Missouri's education fund 18 cents and local governments 2 cents. Any gambling revenue decline means less tax revenue for education and local projects, they said. In the year ended June 30, Missouri got $96.7 million from gambling. But this fiscal year, partly because of the loss limit, casino revenue isn't expected to reach earlier projections of $158.9 million, according to a report by James R. Moody & Associates of Jefferson City. Moody now projects gambling will contribute $137.2 million to the state education fund in the fiscal year ending June 30. A loss limit bill has yet to be introduced into this year's Legislature. A similar measure last year gained powerful support, including from Sen. William McKenna, D-Barnhart, who is now president pro tem of the Missouri Senate.G If the state removes the cap this year, it will only encourage problem gamblers to spend more money that they don't have, said gambling opponent Tom Grey, of Hanover, Ill. "If the limits are taken off, the only ones who will benefit will be the owners," Grey said. "No limits creates more problem gamblers." Grey, a Methodist minister, is head of the National Coalition Against Legalized Gambling. Steve Taylor of Ballwin is head of Casino Watch. He said the state should wait for the results of a two-year study of legalized gambling by a national commission before lifting limits. The study is due in 18 months. Missouri voters approved casinos in 1992 and slot machines in 1994. …

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