Senate bill looks to lose limits on gambling losses

Thursday, April 26, 2007 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 9:07 a.m. CDT, Saturday, July 19, 2008

JEFFERSON CITY — The head of the Missouri Gaming Commission said Wednesday this might be the year the state gets rid of gambling loss limits.

After prolonged debate, the Senate gave initial approval by a narrow margin Tuesday to legislation to repeal loss limits, with supporters citing new casino competition from Kansas.

The gambling industry and the Gaming Commission have for years argued that the loss limits put Missouri casinos at a competitive disadvantage.

State law currently limits patrons to buying $500 worth of chips or tokens, or losing that much in slot machines, in a two-hour period. Missouri is the only state with such limits.

Commission Director Gene McNary said Wednesday that the issue is even more pressing as Missouri casinos prepare for new competition from Kansas.

About 37 percent of customers at Kansas City-area casinos come from Kansas, accounting for $56 million in casino revenues — money at risk of going to new Kansas casinos, he said.

The legislation would also levy a new 4.25 percent tax on a casino’s adjusted gross receipts of more than $40 million. The revenue would fund a new scholarship available to most Missouri high school graduates attending colleges. Casinos already pay a 20 percent tax.

The legislation needs a second vote to clear the Senate and go to the House.

The Missouri Gaming Association has said the industry opposes any additional tax higher than 2 percent.

Gov. Matt Blunt declined Wednesday to endorse or reject the bill, saying he would wait to see how the final bill shakes out. He has in the past opposed removing loss limits.

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