New bill allows casinos to loan gamblers thousands

New bill could offer gamblers $10,000 loan at casinos

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - Missouri casinos will be able to loan gamblers at least $10,000 after Governor Nixon allowed a bill to become law.

The Governor let the midnight deadline on the legislation pass early Tuesday morning without acting, so the bill went into effect. While it allows gamblers easier access to money, it has some worried.

Community Counseling Center Therapist Rick Strait said, "Some of the clients I work with, I see this putting them at a greater risk for depression and anxiety, and I think it;s going to have a very negative impact on those addicted."

Rick Strait works as a gambling therapist in Cape Girardeau. He said he's seen a few handfuls of patients over the years who battle a constant addition problem.

The new law, Senate Bill 741, might soon affect those patrons.

Ed Grewach, General Counsel for the Missouri Gaming Commission said, "What the bill does is it allows casinos to extend credit to individuals. To do that they first must run a credit check on the patron who is applying for that credit, they have to use what the statute calls the usual standards of credit worthiness to determine if the patron qualifies for the line of credit of at least $10,000.

"I have two clients that I was real worried about when this was first talked about a year ago, this bill, they were concerned about it because the only safe guard they had was, 'well I can only take so much money with me, when I lose it all I have to leave', and they were concerned that if they had access to east money, they'd stay longer," said Strait.

Representatives from the Missouri Gaming Commission said the loans must be paid back quickly.

"It has to be by statute a zero percent loan and it has to be due within 30 days the loan has been taken out," said Grewach.

"If they can't pay it in 30 days , the anxiety and desperation it may cause, it may cause somebody to have suicidal thoughts...'there's no way I can pay this back now, I borrowed $10,000 and can't pay it back; I don't know the consequences of not paying it, is it going to be collections or is this going to put their house or bank account in jeopardy as well," said Strait.

ABC 17 reached out to Isle of Capri in Boonville, but they had no comment on the bill or whether or not they would soon start issuing lines of credit.

The law goes into effect on August 28.

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