JEFFERSON CITY — A major fuel supplier in Missouri says it is opposed to the spread of illegal gambling at convenience stores and gas stations where its brand is being sold.
Phillips 66, which supplies petroleum products to wholesale distributors who, in turn, deliver the product to retailers across the state, said in a statement to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that the company does not sanction the presence of the slot machines that have become ubiquitous in Missouri.
“We expect the operators of these branded stations to abide by local and state laws. We do not condone illegal gambling or any other illegal activities,” Phillips 66 spokesperson Bernardo Fallas said in an email.
The video gambling machines have appeared in numerous Phillips 66 stores, as well as other outlets, in recent years as lawmakers have failed to approve a law to clamp down on illegal gambling.
Operators, including Wildwood-based Torch Electronics, argue their games are legal under Missouri law because a player can press a button that shows the outcome of a wager before the player moves forward.
These “no-chance” games are not gambling, the operators say, because the player has the option to know whether they will win or lose. But the player must play their losing hand for the chance to win again, making the pace of play similar to slot machines, critics say.
Because the machines are unregulated, machine revenues don’t go to public education, there are no rules for acceptable payouts, and there are no state gambling addiction resources funded by machine revenues.
Among the companies supplied by Phillips 66 is Truesdale-based Warrenton Oil, owner of FastLane convenience stores and other Missouri businesses. The company has joined with Torch in a lawsuit against the Missouri Highway Patrol, which has been investigating illegal gambling at gas stations and liquor stores.
The companies are seeking an injunction barring officials from removing their machines from stores.
Meanwhile, charges were filed in another case involving illegal slot machines.
On June 28, the Newton County prosecuting attorney accused a gas station manager and a slot machine supplier of misdemeanor gambling charges after a highway patrol investigator found actual, casino-style slot machines at a Neosho station.
So far in 2022, charges related to the devices have been filed in Adair, Barry, Christian, Lincoln, Scott and Schuyler counties.