Missouri Family Network
E-@lert
Casino Gambling
Missouri's $500 Loss Limit Under Attack!


New Developments Unfolded in the Missouri Senate
on Friday, April 23rd, 2004!
~ PLEASE HELP ~
(see ACTION NEEDED below)

Background:

A. Missouri is the only state that still maintains a loss limit to protect patrons of casino gambling from the unethical practices of the casino industry.
B. In less that a dozen years Missouri's casino industry grew from non-existent to over a Billion dollar industry - even with a $500 loss limit!
C. The Missouri Riverboat Gaming Association, and other financially interested parties, have been trying to remove the $500 loss limit for years.
D. Virtually every other promise made to Missouri voters in the early '90's to restrict casinos have been broken now that they are established.
E. Rockaway Beach Missouri has become a beachhead battleground for the advancement of casino gambling:

1. This tiny Taney County town voted to authorize a casino project if it could be legally accomplished. (Less than 250 local voters.) The city has approved Southwest Casino and Hotel Corporation, of Minnesota, and Robert Low, a Springfield businessman, to develop a $100 million riverboat casino project in Rockaway Beach.
2. A statewide citizen's initiative has been circulated to place a constitutional amendment on the November ballot, seeking to authorize this casino on the White River. The casino company has gathered 190,182 signatures, nearly 70,000 more than necessary, to place the constitutional amendment on the November ballot allowing casino gambling on Lake Taneycomo (the White River) in Rockaway Beach.
2. Rockaway Beach is located only a short drive from the explicitly pro-family tourism community of Branson, Missouri. (Located in the next County.) The casino would only be a seven mile boat ride!
3. The Branson tourism community opposes a Rockaway Beach casino project because of its negative image and that image's reflection on the reputation of the Branson/Springfield pro-family allurement.
4. Taney County, in which Rockaway Beach is located, has over 40,000 residents and will have to pay for all the infrastructure cost as well as all the other associated costs of a casino industry.
5. The financial, crime and other costs to be absorbed by Taney County will not be covered by any tax revenue from the casino since it is only legally required to be approved by the city.
6. Under current law, only the approving political subdivision collects a local tax from a casino. (If the project were in an unincorporated area of the county, taxes would be collected by the county.)
7. Taney County is asking the Missouri State Legislature to approve a change to state law that would require a full countywide approval before such a small city can adopt a casino project. (No tax policies change.)
8. Legislation to require an added countywide approval vote for new casino venues has advanced in both the Missouri House and Senate. The House Tourism and Cultural Affairs Committee voted 10-6 on Tuesday, March 30th, to send HB 1547 to the full House. A similar bill, SB 787, was sent to the full Senate by a 6-1 vote on the same day by the Senate Financial & Gov. Organization, Veterans' Affairs & Elections Comm.

F. Senate Bill 787 is the Senate version of the proposal to add a required countywide vote for new casino deals such as Rockaway Beach.
G. On Friday, April 23rd, 2004, the Missouri Senate started debating SB 787.
H. During debate, an amendment was offered to SB 787 which would remove the $500 loss limit for all Missouri casinos.
I. A key argument in favor of the amendment is that a small percentage increase in casino taxes was also included in the amendment.
J. Even with this tax increase, both the casinos and the state collect more profits while the people lose more money!
K. Grass roots citizen lobbying is the only thing that has kept lawmakers from siding with high dollar casino lobbyist on this loss limit issue!


Current Status of the Issue:

* SB 787 came to the Senate floor as a Senate Committee Substitute (SCS SB 787) but was a clean bill to protect Taney County and the Branson/Springfield area.
* SCS SB 787, along with the pending amendment to remove Missouri's $500 Loss Limit, received a rather lively debate Friday (4-23-04).
* Without finishing the debate, both the bill and the pending amendment were set aside so the Senate could shut down for the weekend.
* A series of versions of the pro-casino amendment were involved in the debate (SA1 to SCS SB 787 - SA1 to AS1 to SCS SB 787 - SSA1 to SA1 to SCS SB 787).
* Senate Committee Substitute for Senate Bill 787 with Senate Substitute Amendment No. 1 to Senate Amendment No. 1 pending was laid over on the Informal Calendar.
* When the Missouri State Senate reconvenes On Monday afternoon (2pm) they could go back to this bill and vote on a version of the Loss Limit amendment.
* With this legislation sitting on the "Informal Calendar" it could be ignored or taken up at any time, without notice, between now and the end of session. (May 14, 2004)


Summary:

1. SB 787 is a good bill. It helps to protect southwest Missouri (Branson/Springfield area) from being targeted by the casino industry.
2. Proposed amendments on the Senate floor seek to use this bill as a vehicle to remove all loss limits from Missouri casinos.
3. The negative side of removing the loss limits far outweigh any benefits of passing a clean bill. (The casino still has to get voters to pass a statewide constitutional amendment and must win approval for a license from the Missouri Gaming Commission in light of massive local opposition throughout the two surrounding counties.)


ACTION NEEDED

Call and/or visit your state senator ASAP!

Explain to them that you are STRONGLY OPPOSED to removing the $500 Loss Limit!

Loss Limits protect Missouri casino patrons!

Missouri Loss Limits make our state the only one in which terrorist
cannot easily use casinos to launder money for funding tettorist activities!

Ask your senator to call you when the vote is taken on any amendments
removing loss limits - and to provide you with the roll call vote!

Let your senator know you look forward to their voting NO on any
amendments removing loss limits, or other gambling expansions!


Contact your senator (at home or office)
or call the state capitol operator at
573-751-2000
and ask for him by name.



Kerry K. Messer
Missouri Family Network
P.O. Box 1288
Festus, MO 63028

573-483-2007 home & office
314-971-2477 cell/Jeff. City

mofamnet@ldd.net