If you have been to a bar or gas station in St. Louis, chances are you have seen some slots or video poker machines near the side of the facility. If you own a similar establishment, you might start thinking it could be a good investment to attract potential customers. People spend thousands of dollars on these machines every year and there are several of them all over the city, so it should be all right to own one in your place. Right?
Unfortunately, it is not that straightforward. Earlier this year, police began cracking down on video gambling machines that are illegal to possess in any place that is not a casino or gambling boat approved by the Missouri Gaming Commission. If you or someone you know has a video gambling machine in an establishment, it is important to know what potential charges will await those that have these illegal devices in their vicinity.
Possession of a gambling device in Missouri is a class A misdemeanor. The device could come in the form of a slot machine, video poker or any machine that offers gambling activity between two people or the person with the machine. In Missouri, a class A misdemeanor results in up to one year in jail time and a fine up to $2,000. Despite this, many gas station or restaurant owners are unaware that they are illegal and have been getting more in the city ever since Illinois chose to legalize video lottery terminals
Could it change?
While it may be illegal to possess a gambling device in your facility now, some Missouri lawmakers are looking to change that. Earlier this year, it was proposed that gambling devices could be legal in stores outside of the casino as long as the government taxes and regulates them. Store owners could have them without being charged, and the millions of dollars obtained from it could go towards state needs such as education and veterans’ homes. However, there has been little word on it ever since the proposal.
For now, it is best that you do not possess one in your restaurant or gas station and keep an eye on the bill’s progress. If you ever face charges for illegal gambling device possession, a criminal defense attorney can assist you in minimizing or erasing any potential devastating charges you could receive from a class A misdemeanor.