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Missouri Gamblers May Pay More to Visit Casinos under Proposed Legislation

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It may soon cost more to enter casinos in Missouri. A forthcoming bill seeks to amplify the threshold by $2 per person that casino operators pay, with the money earmarked for state nursing homes.

Casinos to Pay for Nursing Homes

In January, Representative Dave Griffith could introduce a bill to increase the fee, according to comments he made during a meeting of the Missouri Veterans Commission on Monday. Gary Grigsby, executive vice president of the Missouri Association of Veterans Organizations (MAVO), is ready to support the measure.

The plan wants to ensure that the nursing homes have adequate funding to cover staffing and other responsibilities. Grigsby added that their organization will actively assist Griffith in advancing this transitional initiative.

Related: Attempt to Ban Casino Smoking in Missouri Snuffed

Presently, the majority of the funding for the MAVO is derived from gaming outlets and revenue generated from the taxation of marijuana. Due to a lack of necessary funding and insufficient staff, numerous vacant beds can be found in nursing homes in various cities across the state.

Throughout the fiscal year ending on June 30, the MAVO accommodated an average of 672 residents. However, the current enrollment stands at 765, portraying a decline from the previous year's count of almost 1,200 residents. In light of the situation, ongoing initiatives have been implemented as a means to address this issue.

Commissioners have praised Governor Mike Parson for his successful endeavors in elevating salaries within the state government. As a result, nursing homes are now witnessing a significant decrease in the number of vacant support worker positions, as stated by officials.

The rate of vacancies among direct supervisors has dropped by 15%. Furthermore, the department has recently announced a remarkable transformation from 57% of nursing positions being vacant to an encouraging 93% now being filled.

Gamblers don't pay to enter casinos; however, if the casino operators, which currently only pay $1 per person, have to pay more, there could be changes in prices within the properties. Griffith has attempted to introduce an increase in previous years, but failed each time.

Long Odds for Success

Relying solely on substantial casino fees and sports betting for budgetary purposes may incite fierce opposition. 13 casinos from the state of Missouri are in strong disagreement with the proposed augmentation of entry fees. Moreover, the Missouri Sports Association, which advocates for these establishments, has been actively engaged in heated deliberations concerning the legalization of sports betting.

In 2012, an attempt was made by then-governor Jay Nixon, to increase the fee by $1. However, the casinos strongly contended that this would result in an annual depletion of $53 million from their financial reserves. This, they argued, would potentially cause setbacks in their sales, capital ventures and employment opportunities for casino staff.

Senator Mike Bernskoetter proposed a bill in 2019 that aimed to augment the funds by an additional dollar in order to support the establishment of a capital city museum to showcase the state's riverboat history. This proposal anticipated an annual revenue of approximately $39.7 million, but the plan didn't find enough approval from other lawmakers.

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