"First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win." -- Mahatma Gandhi

Loss Limit Repeal A No-Go

May 8th, 2007 by mopns · No Comments

From the Kansas City Star:

By a one-filibustering-senator margin, repeal of Missouri’s misunderstood loss limit appears dead.

“I never say never,” said Senate Majority Leader Charlie Shields, a St. Joseph Republican and sponsor of the repeal bill. “But the reality is it’s got some problems.”

The biggest problem is named Matt Bartle, an anti-gambling Republican senator from Lee’s Summit who, with a little help from like-minded colleagues, staged an estimated 10 hours of filibustering blather in a so-far successful bid to torpedo repeal.

Bartle agreed to shut up and sit down only after Shields and other pro-repeal lawmakers agreed to increase the state’s gambling tax from 20 percent of gross to 24.25 percent. Shields and the industry had earlier agreed to a 2-percentage-point bump.

But the deal with Bartle pushed the industry into revolt. Now it would rather kill the bill and wait a year than pay the higher tariff.

“We want to avoid that onerous tax increase,” said Richard Klemp, a lobbyist for Penn National Gaming, which operates the Argosy Riverside Casino and Hotel.

Bartle did not respond to interview requests or e-mail questions.

He apparently also is not talking to the gaming industry.

“This is just so frustrating I can’t tell you,” said Troy Stremming, an Ameristar Kansas City executive and a lobbyist for the Missouri Gaming Association.

“I’ve tried to talk to him … but he has no desire to even hear our position. The potential loss of jobs and tax dollars have no impact on him.”

Stremming suggested that Bartle is not listening to some of his own constituents, including around 100 Ameristar employees who live in his district and 85,000 more with Ameristar player cards.

Stremming, Shields and others this year argued that Kansas casinos, with no loss limits, will significantly erode casino revenues and state taxes in western Missouri.

Repeal, they say, would give Missouri casinos a fighting chance to compete for lucrative high rollers.

Opponents argue that repeal would leave compulsive gamblers more vulnerable to self-ruin.

Senator Shields hasn’t given up his fight to repeal the loss limit and vows to address the issue next session. In the meantime we can all practice “self-ruin” a few miles down the road in Kansas.

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