Are slot machines in gas stations legal?

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MISSOURI — Slot machines, you may be used to seeing them in casinos where they’re regulated. But a similar video game is showing up in gas stations and bars testing the limits of what’s allowed in Missouri.

The company argued in court the machines don’t break the law. But there’s a growing number of prosecutors in the state that disagree.

Blake Sherer, Platte County Asst. Prosecutor, said, “There are an estimated 14,000 slot machines in the state. This industry is probably worth 10s of millions of dollars a year. And it’s been a kind of gray area of the law, prompting the nickname “gray” machines or ‘no chance gaming.'”

A trial focusing on those games in Platte County, Missouri ended with a guilty verdict for the charge of promoting gambling, a $7,500 fine, and an appeal.

Prosecutors around the state are watching how that plays out.

Theresa Kenney, Jasper Co. Prosecutor, said, “Potentially it’s maybe an issue our Supreme Court decides – what are these gaming devices and do they meet the legal definition of gambling.”

That is very specific.

“There are three elements that the courts look for. You have to py to play. There has to be an element of chance involved and there has to be something of value to be obtained.”

Joplin police recently reported seizing 23 slot machines from the Chill House CBD Shop, leading to a charge of promoting gambling, in a case that could be very similar to that in Platte county. And there could be many, many more like it.

“This maybe helps get the word out to the shop owners you shouldn’t have these and to citizens it’s illegal gambling and they probably ought not be playing them.”

The Joplin case is still working its way through the legal system.

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