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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — A group that represents Missouri’s 13 casinos is calling for state and local health departments to shut down the roughly 14,000 unregulated electronic slot machines that can be found in many gas stations, bars and clubs because it says they are a health hazard during the coronavirus crisis.

The Missouri Gaming Association, the state’s regulatory body, has opposed the unregulated games for some time. It considers the machines illegal and says they eat into casinos’ profits, some of which goes toward funding Missouri schools.

The Missouri Legislature is still debating whether to crack down on the machines, and many prosecutors have been reluctant to press charges against out-of-casino game operators, saying they were waiting to see how a case in Platte County north of Kansas City plays out, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

As part of the efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus, the governor last week ordered Missouri casinos to close until at least this Monday.

Mike Winter, executive director of the casino association, said in a statement that the unregulated games should be shut down because of their “questionable” cleanliness.

“Often lined up one right next to the other in gas stations and other establishments, the cleanliness of these illegal and unregulated slot machines is questionable. We believe the state should shut down these illegal slot machines, for the safety of our residents,” he said.

According to a study released by the National Institutes of Health, the virus can stay viable on plastic and stainless steel surfaces for up to two to three days.

Print Headline: Unregulated slots risky, casinos argue

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