Voting no on Proposition A is set forth
as grassroots attempt to save loss limit
By Allen Palmeri
JEFFERSON CITY—No on A, or www.NOonA.com, on Oct. 7 launched its campaign to defeat Proposition A, which is a bid to lift Missouri’s $500 loss limit per two-hour period wrapped in a carefully crafted package that purports to raise millions of dollars for education.
Phil Gloyer, a layman from Forest Park Baptist Church in Joplin and chairman of the Christian Life Commission (CLC) of the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC), plans to do everything he can to get the word out and defeat the measure Nov. 4. Evelio Silvera, executive director, Casino Watch, is the point man for the “Vote No on A” campaign. He traveled to St. Louis, Jefferson City, Kansas City and Springfield Oct. 7-8 to sound the alarm.
“Missourians understand the protection of the loss limit, and they realize the times that we’re going through right now are tough,” Silvera said. “There’s no reason why we should be buying into any ‘bailout plan’ for a couple of Missouri casino companies just to put an extra $500 million out of the pockets of Missourians and into the pockets of Ameristar and Pinnacle Casinos, particularly when they’re utilizing our children on the backs of education as a means of passing this through on the ballot.”
Silvera specified that Las Vegas-based Ameristar and Pinnacle are “the primary funders, backers, and chief deception artists of Proposition A.”
Advertising is being molded into the familiar “Yes for Schools” mantra, with promises of upwards of $130 million of new revenue being put toward education based on gamblers losing an extra $500 million in 2009. This would be due to casinos paying 21 percent in state taxes instead of the current 20 percent.
Silvera is appalled by the prospect of this proposed increase of $500 million plus the $1.6 billion that was lost in Missouri casinos in 2007 that would theoretically swell the total amount lost in any given year to $2.1 billion.
“That’s an expansion of gambling,” he said.
One of the “carrots” tucked into the proposition, Silvera said, is a cap on the number of Missouri casinos. Some view it as a way to pacify anti-gambling voters in southwest Missouri who hope to shield the Branson area from getting a casino, which ultimately will help ensure the passage of Proposition A. Silvera refuses to buy into that line of reasoning.
“I think that the announcements of our death in a certain region of Missouri are greatly exaggerated, to destroy the quote from Mark Twain,” he said. “Literally, in southwest Missouri they understand exactly what is going on here.”
Law enforcement officials are concerned that if Proposition A passes it will take away an important tool—mandatory identification requirements—which is now used to track crime. For example, thanks to the players card which is tied to the loss limit, Missouri Highway Patrolmen last year were able to solve more than 95.8 percent (1,611) of 1,682 casino-related crimes committed. It also would take away their ability to enforce the Missouri Disassociated Person List, which involves more than 13,000 gamblers who currently are banning themselves from the casinos.
“From a law enforcement perspective, this is downright dangerous for Missourians,” Silvera said, noting that a “Yes” vote on “A” also would remove current and future identification technologies.
Schools are allegedly going to benefit from the passage of Proposition A, but Silvera said schools are actually being exploited. In a statement to the Missouri Joint Committee on Education, members of the Senate Minority Caucus explained that upwards of half the total of Missouri schools would not receive any money at all, and only 19 cents of every dollar would go to the few eligible schools. This would occur because Proposition A does not give the money directly to the school districts but instead filters it through the funding formula, leaving $81 million unaccounted for in the system.
Pending litigation in Cole County Circuit Court and subsequent appeals regarding the constitutionality of the ballot issue theoretically could disrupt the process of Proposition A going forward, Silvera said, but the NO on A campaign decided in early October that it had no choice but to proceed with an all-out effort to defeated the proposition, concluding that it is destined to go before the voters.
“This will really be a true citizens’ battle as we go forward in this grassroots campaign,” he said.