Missouri attorney general Andrew Bailey has withdrawn from a lawsuit against the state. The case concerns the effort to ban unregulated slot machine companies that offer their products at gas stations.
Two years ago, the state tried to crack down on the unregulated machines. However, Torch Electronics, which produces the machines, and Warrenton Oil, which offers them at its stations, asked a Cole Country judge to issue a stopping order that would prevent the Missouri Highway Patrol from seizing the machines.
During the last few years, Missouri has been embattled with Torch Electronics over the machines, which many consider to be an illegal form of gambling. However, in previous statements, Bailey has clearly stated that he believes the matter should be left to local prosecutors and investigators.
Bailey’s Withdrawal Attracted Scrutiny
Following lobbying efforts tied to the two plaintiffs, Andrew Bailey withdrew from the lawsuit. This follows campaign contributions to a political action committee that supports Bailey. The contributions, which are in the tens of thousands, were provided by the plaintiffs.
The attorney general might therefore have withdrawn from the case because of a conflict of interest. Madeline Sieren, a spokesperson for Bailey, explained that this decision is in line with the office’s established practice of retaining conflict counsel to avoid any appearance of impropriety. Sieren refused to comment on why Bailey did not return the money instead of withdrawing from the case.
Bailey’s decision attracted the scrutiny of Elad Gross, a Democrat rival in the race for the attorney general office. Gross slammed Bailey for taking money from “illegal gambling companies” instead of doing his job. As a result, more taxpayer money will have to be used to hire a private attorney.
Others have critiqued Bailey for leveraging the state Merchandising Practices Act to limit the medical care transgender people receive but not doing anything to protect people from illegal gambling, despite having the power to do so.
Torch Electronics Remains Strong
Torch Electronics’ lobbying continues to prevent the state from banning the machines. The company exploits the vagueness of the current legislation to offer its products that, according to it, are legal.
The lack of action on the prosecutors’ side has helped Torch thrive in Missouri in spite of the increasingly loud opposition.
In March, TNT Amusements, a licensed gambling operator, launched a lawsuit against Torch Electronics, saying that the illegal products undermine the law-abiding operators.