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Amendment 8 to allow nonprofit gambling

October 22, 1998
By: Najeeb Hasan
State Capital Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - Constitutional Amendment 8 on Missouri's November ballot would amend the state constitution to allow the legislature to legalize raffles and sweepstakes by religious and charitable organizations.

Religious and charitable organizations can already sponsor bingo games.

Additionally, Amendment 8 permits the General Assembly to develop a framework of standards and regulations to ensure organizations do award the prizes from the raffles and sweepstakes.

Sponsored by Rep. May Scheve, D-St. Louis County, the amendment clarifies that any person participating in the nonprofit lotteries must be 18 years or older.

Missouri's Constitution, under its present wording, is interpreted to allow only three forms of gambling in the state: the Missouri Lottery, charitable bingo and riverboat gambling. If passed, Amendment 8 would be the fourth exception to the state's ban on gambling.

Pros:

Supporters of Amendment 8 insist raffles and sweepstakes are suitable activities for nonprofit organizations.

Cons:

At the time the proposal was before the legislature, opponents of the amendment had argued that the social costs of gambling are too great to permit more exposure in the state.

There has been no public opposition, however, to the ballot proposal.