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Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2016

Time to lose state's gambling loss limits

Sunday, April 25, 2004

At long last, I have finally found a point of agreement with Gov. Bob Holden. Believe me, it wasn't easy. Were I to enumerate the points of disagreement with Holden, the newspaper would be forced to add additional pages. But on the area of dropping the foolish loss limit provision on Missouri casinos, I think Holden has it right.

Holden has proposed an array of ideas to generate revenue in our state's lagging economy. Now Holden isn't one to cut much mind you. Instead he takes the traditional Democratic approach of seeking new revenue streams. That often takes the form of higher taxes. But the casino loss limit is another matter.

Missouri's loss limit is unique. Gamblers are limited to a $500 loss for each two-hour gambling session and for those who know anything about gambling, the limits are a fraud and a joke. They don't work and there are ample ways to get around them. Ask any gambler.

But for some reason - and I assume it's a Bible Belt mentality - we seem to feel comfortable with gambling as long as the losses are limited to $500 every two hours. Doesn't that thinking seem odd?

I might take issue with the $75 million in additional state revenues that proponents of the loss limit removable predict. But let's say the gain for the state is just half that amount. That amounts to a substantial industry all by itself. And that additional gambling revenue will translate into jobs.

I fear the Republican majority in the Legislature will ignore this idea simply because it is an election year and Holden and the Democrats seem to be squarely behind the plan. That would be foolish on the part of the Republicans.

Like it or not, casino gambling is here to stay. Like it or not, gambling is a form of entertainment enjoyed by millions. And like it or not, Missouri loses ground to other states that have no loss limit. And that includes every state where gambling is allowed.

Even if the state gains no revenue, the loss limits should still pass into extinction. All of those who predicted doom and gloom for Missouri when casino gambling was first introduced have been proven wrong. Now it's past time that Missouri joins the rest of the real world and ends this phony loss limit idea.

Both political parties need to view gambling as an industry for our state. And when an industry offers a potential $75 million in new state revenue, the state should be more than willing to listen.

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