2.11.08

Evaluation of Missouri Propositions: Proposition A

Language: Shall Missouri law be amended to:
• repeal the current individual maximum loss limit for gambling;
• prohibit any future loss limits; require identification to enter the gambling area only if necessary to establish that an individual is at least 21 years old;
• restrict the number of casinos to those already built or being built;
• increase the casino gambling tax from 20% to 21%;
• create a new specific education fund from gambling tax proceeds generated as a result of this measure called the "Schools First Elementary and Secondary Education Improvement Fund"; and
• require annual audits of this new fund?

State governmental entities will receive an estimated $105.1 to $130.0 million annually for elementary and secondary education, and $5.0 to $7.0 million annually for higher education, early childhood development, veterans, and other programs. Local governmental entities receiving gambling boat tax and fee revenues will receive an estimated $18.1 to $19.0 million annually.

Background – In an economic downturn, more than in any other time, drinking, gambling, and general “sin taxable” items increase. With the current unemployment rate of Missouri at 7.2%, and other layoffs coming from Chrysler (and maybe Boeing), the temptation to escape “reality” through gambling is likely to increase. Add in that those most tempted (most likely to engage) are those least able to afford it—the aged, the abandoned, the poor, the oppressed. With this in mind, when Missouri made gambling legal—there was the concern that someone would stay and gamble away their entire life in the time of a few hours. So they set caps, limiting the loss of one individual in a given time frame.

Issues / Implications – This amendment would remove all caps on loss limits. Without these, someone could walk into a casino and gamble away their entire life and nobody would stop them. 10,000? 100,000? Whatever. Gone. It would prevent the state from ever setting loss limits again (bullet point 2). Then in the third bullet point, the “restriction on casinos built” is just a way of giving a monopoly to existing Casinos. Harrah’s wants to get more money with no limitation on the people gambling with less competition. At what benefit to the people? A meager 1% higher taxes. This is corruption at its worst—set to take advantage of the propensity of people toward addiction, their escape mechanism, and the poor.

CONCLUSION: I plan to vote NO for this bill.

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