JEFFERSON CITY — Two Arkansas companies have apparently entered what has become a lucrative, rapidly expanding and possibly illegal enterprise in Missouri.
Missouri Lottery Director May Scheve-Reardon told members of the state lottery commission last week that agency staffers have been reviewing correspondence with the Missouri State Highway Patrol regarding the two firms and the possible placement of unregulated video gambling machines in bars, restaurants and convenience stores, Primarily in the southern part of the state.
The companies in question include PB08 Electronic Ventures Inc. of Gravette, Arkansas, and Lone Wolfe Entertainment LLC of Centerton, Arkansas, she said.
And, she warned, the flood of unregulated gambling machines will only continue without some legal or action.
“We’re going to be swimming in these machines this summer,” Scheve-Reardon said.
The companies join a number of other out-of-state ventures that have flooded the state with gambling devices. Among the top companies is Wildwood-based Torch Electronics, whose owner, Steve Miltenberger, formerly worked in the video gambling industry in Illinois.
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Miltenberger faces illegal gambling charges in Adair County, in northern Missouri.
Another company, Shawnee, Kansas-based Integrity Vending LLC, was found guilty in 2020 of promoting illegal gambling in the first degree in Platte County.
At issue for the lottery is the potential loss of ticket sales as people funnel their money into the machines, rather than purchasing lottery products.
Scheve-Reardon said lottery sales figures indicate the machines are having an effect on revenue.
Thus far in 2022, ticket sales at convenience stores, where many of the machines are located, are down 4.8%. By contrast, ticket sales are up at other retailers, including grocery stores, truck stops and bars.
Every dollar lost to the unregulated and untaxed machines means less money for the lottery to transfer to the state’s education fund.
While a handful of lawsuits have sought to punish companies that supply the machines, Scheve-Reardon said she is considering yanking the lottery licenses of businesses that allow the games on their premises in hopes that will end the spread.
Lawmakers adjourned in May after again failing to advance legislation that would begin to either eradicate the machines or legalize, regulate and tax the games. The primary champion of that effort, Senate President Dave Schatz, R-Sullivan, is term-limited and will not be returning to the Capitol to press for a ban again.
Attempts to reach the owners of the Arkansas firms were not successful.
Records show the president of PB08 Electronic Ventures Inc. as Jasminder Thandi. The company is registered to do business at an address in Noel, Missouri.
The manager of Lone Wolfe Entertainment is Shannon Wolfe. The company has registered to do business in Missouri at a post office box in Anderson, Missouri.
Both Missouri locations are just north of the Arkansas-Missouri border.