Illegal gaming devices must be publicly destroyed

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Five video game machines declared to be illegal gaming devices in the only successful felony prosecution of a game seller in Missouri will be destroyed Thursday in Platte City – and the public is invited to watch.

The games, previously owned by Integrity Vending LLC, were seized in October 2018 by the Parkville Police Department from two convenience stores. Integrity Vending was convicted of promoting the game in September 2020, fined $ 7,500, and has withdrawn its other games from other locations across the state.

Under a 1951 Missouri law, any device used for illegal gambling is confiscated by the state and “that has no legitimate use must be publicly destroyed.”

On August 17, Circuit Judge W. Ann Hansbrough ordered the confiscation and ordered the destruction of the machines to take place at the Platte County Public Works Department site in Platte City. Platte County District Attorney Eric Zahnd announced Monday that the destruction would take place at 1 p.m. Thursday at the department’s location on Highway 273.

Zahnd could not be reached on Monday for information on how the destruction would be accomplished. The public works facility has a large open space and heavy machinery available.

The conviction is the only one for a felony among the approximately two dozen pending criminal cases in the state for video games that have proliferated in convenience stores and other venues in recent years.

The games are called “pre-reveal” or “bad luck game” because players can see if they will win or lose if they play the next bet. The promoters of the machine said this feature made them legal.

The handful of other convictions have been handed down for misdemeanors, such as possession of a gaming device. There have been hundreds of investigations by local law enforcement and the Missouri State Highway Patrol, but The Independent has found that many prosecutors are reluctant to press charges, and some do not believe the gambling is illegal.

A handful of prosecutors have taken a more aggressive approach, most notably in Linn County, where the prosecutor has filed three felony cases based on investigations by the Brookfield Police Department.

Other defendants awaiting trial in Linn County include a Columbia company called Capital Vending and Torch Electronics, based in Wildwood, which has invested heavily in lobbying efforts and campaign donations seeking to defeat legislation that would make prosecutions safer.

The Missouri Independent is a nonprofit, non-partisan news organization covering state government and its impact on Missourians.