The following letter was sent last Friday to Seymour Police Chief Steven Pogue from Webster County Prosecuting Attorney Ben Berkstresser:
Re: Potential Gambling Devices In Seymour and Webster County Notice And Opportunity To Remove Gambling Devices.
I have appreciated your concern and efforts towards the issue of the gambling devices presently in a business in Seymour.
As you know, from a concerned citizen’s report last year, my office received and investigative report from the Missouri Highway Patrol, which details the efforts by the investigating officer to determine if the devices in the business in Seymour were illegal gambling devices. The report presented the conclusion that the devices were illegal gambling devices. Upon review of the report, I had my office request a probable cause statement from the investigating officer so that charges could be filed, however, no probable cause statement has been delivered.
I have been told, indirectly, that until litigation that determines whether or not these machines are illegal, that neither the Highway Patrol nor the Gaming Commission are going to submit probable cause statements so that prosecutions can be initiated. I do not like this position, but understand that if a court determines these machines to be legal, that there would be fallout and potential liability for agencies or officers.
I have resigned that I will have to wait until the litigation is complete on this issue, but I continue to believe these are illegal, unregulated gambling devices.
My position is that if a business has a device, that they take the device out of service until the litigation is concluded, as I believe they are committing a crime. In such case, if the courts return a decision that the device is illegal, I will not file and pursue criminal charges.
However, if a business owner chooses to continue to keep the device in service during the litigation, which has a trial date in July, and the courts agree that these are gambling devices, then I will pursue prosecution of the business owners as soon as practical.
I believe that if law enforcement is waiting and I am required to wait on the determination of this issue, then these devices should be out of service until that issue is decided.
I believe business owners have been deceived by the company peddling these devices and have been led to believe that they found the “loophole” to regulated gambling devices. I believe these devices are illegal and are hurting our community.
I will keep you informed on the status of litigation.
Do not hesitate to contact me if you have any additional questions.
Ben Berkstresser, Webster County Prosecuting Attorney