Dec. 7-The Jasper County prosecutor has dismissed a charge of promoting gambling that has been pending against the operator of a CBD business near downtown Joplin where police seized 23 gaming machines a year ago.
The charges against Dinesh K. Sood, the owner of the Chill House at 501 W. Seventh St., were dismissed at a hearing Monday in Jasper County Circuit Court.
Jasper County Prosecutor Theresa Kenney said the charge was being dismissed in light of a statewide controversy over the legality of "pre-reveal" gaming machines seized at the Chill House.
Kenney said the machines have been peddled to store owners in Missouri by their manufacturers with assurances that they are legal because they inform any customer who uses them in advance whether they will win or lose. The manufacturers maintain that, as such, they do not legally constitute games of chance.
Customers are lured into inserting money in them by the prospect that the next play could be a winner with a payout similar to slot machines, Kenney said. State law requires a casino license to operate slot machines.
Kenney said the Missouri State Highway Patrol and local law enforcement agencies in some jurisdictions have been seizing the pre-reveal machines at businesses and arresting or citing their owners with promoting gambling.
But prosecution of the charge can be problematic, especially proving that a business owner knew that they are illegal, Kenney said. Consequently, law enforcement has been spotty across the state, with some jurisdictions choosing to prosecute and others not, she said.
She said local prosecutors have been waiting to see what happens with a Platte County case in which a conviction was obtained. If the case is appealed, a decision at the appeals court level could provide some guidance to local prosecutors, she said.
Kenney said another factor in her decision to dismiss the charge on Sood, 42, of Rogers, Arkansas, was the defendant's willingness to agree in writing that he now understands that the machines are illegal and that he will discontinue any use of them at his business.
She said two other Jasper County cases have been brought to her by the state patrol that she has yet to file charges on.