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Gambling on the Rails

September 01, 1995
By: ELISA CROUCH
State Capital Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - The waters are not enough for some of the gambling boosters in Missouri's legislature.

Nearly one year after Missouri voters approved riverboat gambling, a legislative committee has been appointed to look at the idea of gambling on railroad trains.

The idea came up during the 1995 Legislative session when problems with Amtrak funding were being discussed.

So, Rep. Carol Mays, D-Independence, came up with the idea of gaming cars as a way to help keep Amtrak afloat.

"I'm old enough to remember the days when trains were very popular," Mays said. "I remember the club cars and dining cars that added to the scene."

Mays said she received a "tremendous response" when she talked to other legislators about the idea.

"It's exciting, isn't it?" said Rep. Don Kissell, D-St. Peters. "It's not necessarily just an opportunity to fund Amtrak, but its a great way to increase tourism."

House Speaker Bob Griffin has appointed a committee to examine the idea. The committee, which Mays will chair, is scheduled to start holding hearings in St. Louis, Kansas City and Jefferson City sometime this month. Loss limits, the types of gaming and regulations are among the details that need to be worked out.

According to Griffin's office, the committee is scheduled to report its findings to the House Speaker by Dec. 15.

Even if passed by the legislature, however, any such expansion of gambling in Missouri would require voter approval.