The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has reportedly prompted state health officials in Missouri to temporarily ban the operation of controversial slot-like machines that have become an ever-increasing fixture at many local gas stations, restaurants and convenience stores.
According to a Saturday report from the St Louis Post-Dispatch newspaper, the unregulated units are operated in something of a grey area with area prosecutors said to be awaiting the outcome of a continuing Platte County court case before deciding whether to institute a full-blown prohibition. Proponents have purportedly argued that the entertainment offered by the devices should not be considered gambling since the outcome of games is predetermined although this is not a view shared by the state’s commercial casinos who are concerned that the attractions are increasingly eating into their own profits.
The newspaper reported that the highly-infections coronavirus strain has so far killed twelve people in Missouri and last week prompted Governor Mike Parson to issue stay-at-home orders for the city of St Louis and its adjoining St Louis County as a way of helping to stop the spread of the potentially life-threatening illness. The Republican has moreover purportedly ordered every one of his state’s 13 casinos to close until at least the end of the month and advised residents to avoid gathering in large groups.
Randall Williams (pictured), Director for the Missouri Department of Health and Social Services, told the St Louis Post-Dispatch that his office’s Saturday sanction against the slot-like machines also encompasses other coin-operated games such as pinball and pool tables and is to remain in place for the duration of the public health emergency.
Reportedly read a statement from Williams…
“Due to the potential unnecessary exposure associated with individuals playing coin-operated amusement devices and slot machines, all persons should avoid using such devices or machines and the owner of such devices or machines shall be prohibited from operating them for public use through the duration of this order.”
The St Louis Post-Dispatch reported that Williams’ move came after the National Institutes of Health published the results of a federal study showing that the new coronavirus strain is able to live for ‘up to two to three days’ on the kinds of plastic and stainless steel utilized in the manufacture of many gaming machines.