Missouri Slot-Like Gaming Devices Lead to More Litigation

Posted on: March 21, 2023, 08:38h. 

Last updated on: March 22, 2023, 01:49h.

Lawsuits are piling up against Missouri video gaming machine company Torch Electronics. The newest one comes from TNT Amusements, which claims the slot machine-like devices are illegal and hurt its bottom line.

An example of a no-chance gaming device
An example of a no-chance gaming device, pictured above. Such devices are leading to litigation in Missouri. (Image: Missouri Independent)

TNT alleges Torch violates state consumer law and federal criminal statutes, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. TNT also claims Torch is taking part in fraud.

Torch does not have a Missouri gaming license and does not operate its amusement devices in a casino,” the lawsuit stated, according to the news report. “Businesses have limited floor space and every spot taken up by an illegal Torch device is a spot taken away from a legal amusement device such as those offered by TNT.”

The 56-page litigation was filed last week in Missouri’s Eastern District court. It seeks treble damages.

TNT provides amusement games and is owned by Jim Turntine. The same company previously filed a lawsuit against Torch in 2019. TNT then attempted to get Torch to remove its gaming machines at a truck stop.

So far, that litigation has been unsuccessful.

Class Action Lawsuit

Another federal court lawsuit against Torch was filed earlier this month against players who lost money while using the company’s devices. It could become a class action lawsuit and represent many disgruntled players.

It is really so cruel to people who have gambling problems to place them in these situations,” Joe Jacobson, the attorney who filed the litigation, told the Missouri Independent newspaper. “It is like being a cocaine addict and everywhere you go, there are lines of coke sitting on bar tops.”

Torch gaming devices are found in many convenience stores and truck stops in the state. Torch terminals resemble slot machines. A player puts in money, selects a game, and then selects a wager, the Post-Dispatch explained in a report. Winners get paid by a cashier at the business where terminals are located.

Missouri is now debating the legalization of sports betting. But some in the legislature want to see a video gambling bill enacted that would regulate the devices provided by Torch. State officials have left it up to local prosecutors whether to prosecute the use of the Torch machines.

So far, there has been only one successful Missouri prosecution of the Torch devices. It took place in Platte County. Those gaming machines were seized and destroyed.

Torch Responds

Torch Electronics has responded that its devices are legal under state law because players are allowed to see the game’s outcome before they continue, the Independent reported.

Torch contends its gaming machines are legal because there is no “element of chance,” according to the Post-Dispatch.

Company officials further say their machines “fall outside the definition of a ‘gambling device’ under Missouri law,” the Post-Dispatch reported. They call them “no-chance game machines.”