A proposal in Jefferson City has Riverside officials concerned, as it could extensively expand gambling opportunities in Missouri outside of the 13 existing river-tied casinos.
Six bills spread across the state House of Representatives and Senate would loosen gambling laws in several ways, including legalizing sports betting and allowing businesses to install remote gambling terminals. Riverside city administrator Brian Koral updated the board on the bills at the Tuesday, Feb. 19 board of aldermen meeting. He said he, mayor Kathy Rose and others had visited Jefferson City in recent weeks to urge lawmakers to oppose the bills.
“They are trying to put in what they call VLTs — a video lottery terminal — in any place that has a liquor license,” Rose said. “Not all of them are as broad as this one that we testified on, but basically anywhere with a liquor license — a restaurant with a liquor license, bars, fraternal orders, anywhere.”
Rose said the proposed legislation is modeled from Illinois, where she said there are 30,000 slot machines all over the state.
“They will be in your face with hardly any regulation or control,” Rose said, stating the city has worked to responsibly regulate its own Argosy Casino.
Convenience store or truck stop staff are not equipped to card for age and control users of terminals in their stores, Rose said. At the casinos, security guards are able to check the identification of patrons before they can enter the casino floor.
The city has contracted with a Jefferson City-area attorney to advocate on their behalf and Rose said cities who currently host Missouri’s riverboat casinos have banded together and may hire an independent lobbyist.
Koral said part of the city’s hopes in attending the hearings is to spread the word of the good the existing system can do for communities like Riverside, which has experienced rapid growth since the opening of Argosy Casino in 1994. Tax funds from Argosy helped pave the way for the city’s renaissance and Koral said that is an important story to tell in Jefferson City.
Missouri Senate bills 43 and 44 would authorize and regulate sports wagering and gambling via remote terminals. Last month, the bills lost some of their momentum in committee discussions, with senators questioning the need for such an expansion and due to pushback from supporters of the existing casino-based system, such as Riverside.
Both bills propose taxes and fees and state the monies would boost programs for education and veterans. A portion of funds collected via sports wagering would be used for stadium projects.
At the end of February, Rose and alderman Aaron Thatcher again traveled to Jefferson City to speak to the committee.
“For the first time ever and, frankly, in an affront to the democratic process by which we have made these decisions in the past, you are making this major policy change without asking the voters of the state to decide whether the benefits will outweigh the costs,” Rose told the members of the senate on the committee.
AUTO PULSE DEMONSRATION
At the Tuesday, March 5 board meeting, firefighters from the Riverside Fire Department demonstrated a new piece of medical equipment designed to improve patient outcomes following cardiac arrest.
The Auto Pulse is a portable device that, when strapped to the chest and activated, provides consistent chest compressions that mimics the natural heartbeat to keep blood flowing through the body. The Auto Pulse eliminates staff fatigue, patient transfer or transport issues and other factors that impact the ability to deliver consistent chest compressions to a cardiac care patient. Studies out of Palo Alto, California show a nearly 50 percent increase in survival rates for cardiac patients who were treated using the Auto Pulse.
Riverside is the first fire department in the region to develop the treatment protocols and deploy the equipment for regular use.