Missouri seeks to support veterans by raising the state’s casino admission fees. Under a measure proposed by State Representative Dave Griffith, the fee, currently standing at $2, would be raised by a dollar or more.
The extra money from the raised taxes will help veterans’ nursing homes that support people who have served their country. This is not the first time he has proposed such a measure either. Back in 2021, the Rep. tried to get the admission fee raised but failed to gather enough support for the bill.
Missouri already uses the $2 admission fees to support the Veterans Commission Capital Improvement Trust Fund, the Missouri National Guard and the Compulsive Gamblers Fund. In FY 2023 alone, for example, the Veterans Commission Capital Improvement Trust Fund managed to collect over $11.24 million.
A part of the money also supports scholarship assistance. However, the $2 tax has not been changed since Missouri legalized riverboat gambling over 30 years ago. Griffith believes that it is time to change that and do more good.
However, Griffith’s proposal has been firmly opposed by the Missouri Gaming Association. According to the industry body, a heightened tax would lead to reduced capital improvement projects and fewer incentives for players. The association went as far as claiming that the measure would impact its staffing.
Introducing Betting Is Another Way to Tackle the Issue
An alternative to raising the $2 admission fee would be the legalization of sports betting, Griffith argues. According to him, the introduction of a new gambling vertical would create another tax stream that would, in turn, provide the extra money veterans’ nursing homes need.
Missouri is already mulling over the legalization of sports betting as demonstrated by House Bill 556. The bipartisan bill sought to introduce sportsbooks at the state’s riverboat casinos and legalize online sports betting. While the measure passed the lower chamber with overwhelming approval, it was later stalled by Senator Denny Hoskins.
Hoskins said he is supportive of the legalization of betting but believes that Missouri must also introduce robust regulations that would control grey sector machines in stores, bars and gas stations.
Speaking about unregulated gambling machines, Attorney General Andrew Bailey made headlines earlier this year after withdrawing from a high-profile lawsuit and describing the matter as complex despite the rising complaints.