Lawsuits Surge Over Missouri’s Slot-Machine Style Gaming Machines

A plethora of lawsuits are accumulating against Missouri-based Torch Electronics, a company that provides video gaming machines. Their newest challenger, TNT Amusements, claims the slot-machine-like devices are illegal and are impacting their finances. TNT alleges Torch violates both state consumer law and federal criminal statutes, while also taking part in fraud, as reported by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Torch has no Missouri gaming license and, according to the lawsuit, is taking up space that could be occupied by legal amusement devices offered by TNT.

This 56-page litigation was presented to the Missouri Eastern District court and is seeking triple damages. Prior to this, TNT had filed a lawsuit against Torch in 2019 for removing gaming machines from a truck stop. Unfortunately, this was unsuccessful.

Just this month, another lawsuit was filed in federal court against Torch on behalf of players who had lost money in their gaming machines. It is being suggested it will become a class action lawsuit, representing many disgruntled players. Joe Jacobson, the lawyer who filed the litigation, stated to the Missouri Independent newspaper that it is “really so cruel to people who have gambling problems to place them in these situations.”

Torch gaming machines are found in many convenience stores and truck stops around Missouri and resemble slot machines. Players put in money, select a game and then a wager and, if they win, they are paid by a cashier at the business.

Currently, Missouri is debating the legalization of sports betting, but some in the legislature want to pass a video gambling bill that would properly regulate Torch’s devices. It has been left to local prosecutors to decide whether or not to pursue legal action against the use of Torch’s machines. So far, only one successful prosecution has taken place in Platte County, where the gaming machines were seized and destroyed.

Torch claims their machines are legal under state law because players can see the outcome of the game before continuing, and that they are ‘no-chance game machines’, as reported by the Post-Dispatch. They assert their devices go “outside the definition of a ‘gambling device’ under Missouri law”.