April 22, 2003
JEFFERSON CITY — The threat that gambling interests in the state of Missouri will go back on their original promises to keep their industry limited is real, according to a Southern Baptist state senator who believes that gambling is evil because of what the Bible teaches on it.
Sen. John Loudon, R-Ballwin and a member of Ballwin Baptist Church, said that the Senate is being forced to take up the issue this week in the context of the state’s budget crisis. Casinos are working on a plan that would contribute $50 million toward making up the deficit, Loudon said, but their plan would come with a cost.
What is very likely to be debated on the floor of the Senate this week, Loudon said, is a proposal that would eliminate the current loss limit clause in state law.
Casino patrons by law are limited to losing $500 every two hours. This has been consistent with the casinos pledging to limit their industry to boats in St. Louis and Kansas City in an operation that does not resemble Las Vegas. Their new idea to eliminate the loss limit goes back on their original promises and would make Missouri gambling equal in scope to Las Vegas, Loudon said.
The casinos are willing to take on a one percent tax in exchange for the elimination of the loss limit, Loudon said. This tax would add $50 million to state coffers.
The senator has been following the issue since it was birthed in Missouri. He now is vice chairman of the Joint Committee on Gaming and Wagering. He said he is “extremely opposed” to giving the gambling industry what it wants at this time.
Besides creating the Las Vegas effect in Missouri, the proposal would open the door to a criminal element that would not be desirable, Loudon said
“The fear is this really makes the casinos magnets for money laundering,” the senator said.