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Thursday, April 26, 2007


Legislation to eliminate Missouri’s casino loss limits in exchange for increasing taxes on casino operators narrowly won preliminary Senate approval on April 24, but final passage remains far from certain. SB 430 passed 17-16. The bill needs 18 votes to advance to the House of Representatives.

Gambling opponents agreed to end their nine-hour filibuster of the bill after Senate Majority Leader Charlie Shields, R-St. Joseph and the bill’s sponsor, agreed to impose higher taxes on casinos than originally proposed. Shields had proposed boosting casinos’ gross receipts tax to 22 percent from the current 20 percent. Under the compromise, the tax rate would increase to 24.25 percent. Casino lobbyists likely will ask the House to return to the smaller increase.

Missouri is the only state to impose casino loss limits, which the Missouri Gaming Commission and casino operators say puts the state at a competitive disadvantage against neighboring states with legalized gambling. Patrons are restricted to losing $500 every two hours. The loss limit is the last vestige of restrictions Missouri voters imposed when they authorized casinos in the 1990s. If the bill clears the Senate, its fate in the House is uncertain.

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