JEFFERSON CITY – The legislative liaison for the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) said it is imperative that Missouri Baptists become involved in two issues during the current General Assembly that involve the gambling industry.
Kerry Messer, president of Missouri Family Network which provides lobbying services for the MBC’s Christian Life Commission, reported that the state lottery is hoping to expand its offerings without going through the formal legislative process.
He also reported that the casino industry is making another try at being allowed to extend credit to patrons in the casinos who have used up their cash.
Regarding the lottery question, he noted that the State Lottery Commission is using the budget process to include the financing of video gambling devices to be placed in more than 5,000 outlets throughout the state.
“Payment to install video lottery machines is akin to video poker or other forms of video gambling,” Messer said.
“If successful, our families and children will be seeing people playing video gambling devices in quick shops and other family-friendly venues within the year.”
He explained that the legislative process would allow for public hearings and a clear-cut legislative vetting of the issue.
“We are calling on Missouri Baptist churches across the state to lead their members to be salt and light,” he said. “We are asking them to contact their local House and Senate members to express concerns, thoughts, and opposition to this new culture of video gambling which will negatively impact the next generation of our families.”
Receiving General Assembly attention, in the meantime, is House Bill 747 (HB 747), sponsored by Rep. Dwight Scharnhorst, R-Valley Park, which would allow casinos to extend credit to their patrons. Previous lawmaking bodies in Missouri have not supported this effort.
“Once again, we are confronted with the greed of the casino industry,” Messer commented.
“Not satisfied with the hundreds of millions of dollars taken from Missouri citizens, they want the ability to take casino patrons’ resources, livelihoods, or even their homes.
“Casino operators understand better than anyone how susceptible gamblers are to making poor judgments while in the heat and excitement of the casino environment.
“Offering credit to patrons in the midst of the artificial casino environment is the best way to abuse vulnerable people.”