Loss limit safe as General Assembly ends
By Lee Warren
May 17, 2005
JEFFERSON CITY – The Missouri Baptist Convention Christian Life Commission and Casino Watch diligently watched one gambling bill after another for any hint that an amendment was about to be added that would kill the $500 loss limit every two hours. The stakes were high and in the end, the loss limit was kept safe for one more General Assembly session.
“There aren’t many defenders of the family in regards to gambling,” said CLC Chairman Rodney Albert, pastor of Hallsville Baptist Church. “Missouri Baptists and Casino Watch are about the only advocates who understand this evil. I really believe that without the diligence of our denomination, we would see the loss limit collapse.”
Albert doesn’t mince words regarding his thoughts about the loss limit currently on the books.
“The loss limit is like a ‘No Trespassing’ sign to criminals who are prowling around looking for another way to launder illegal money,” Albert said. “And the loss limit is a small protection to families of compulsive gamblers. So, I’m thrilled that it’s still the law. It’s the only provision of the original proposal to Missouri citizens that remains unbroken. The gambling lobby wants to break this promise, too, but Missouri Baptists fight hard every year to keep it intact.
“But frankly, I get tired of us playing defense. I wish we could push gambling out of Missouri altogether. Gambling is a sin and sin destroys.
Many Missouri marriages will end this year because of gambling and many children will suffer needlessly because money is squandered in the casinos.”
The loss limit battle drew a response from Missouri Attorney General Jay Nixon, a Democrat, who, on May 5, wrote a letter of support to Casino Watch.
“As Attorney General, one of my primary duties is to fight crime and protect the safety of Missouri citizens,” Nixon said in the letter. “A key challenge in the fight against crime is keeping criminal elements out of our state. Casinos—and in particular, those without loss limits—can provide attractive and convenient means for drug dealers, organized crime, and even potential terrorists to ‘launder’ money derived from criminal activity, thus hiding the illegal origin of that money.”
Nixon noted that Missouri citizens have already spoken on the issue.
“In 1992, voters approved a proposal to allow limited gaming in this state,” he wrote. “Their approval came with the condition that gaming be limited in loca-tion and in scope. The limits imposed by the citizens included the $500 loss limit.”
Even though gambling opponents won the battle this session, they know that the war will continue.
“Missouri Baptists will have to call, write and visit their legislators next session to make clear we oppose any attempt to remove the loss limit,” Albert said.