High court reverses plea in casino chips case - Monday 28th of January 2008

The Missouri Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that defrauding a casino with its own gambling chips is no crime if the defendant doesnt place a bet.

Buying chips then exchanging them for an amount higher than face value does not violate the state law against attempting to commit a prohibited act on a gambling boat, the court ruled in Jefferson City.

The 4-3 decision reversed Eric Winfreys guilty plea in St. Charles County Court.

Winfrey, 38, of St. Charles, continues to face unrelated but much more serious allegations. He is jailed on first-degree murder and robbery charges in the shooting June 2, 2004, of Christopher Hanneken, 27, of Maryland Heights, at a storage facility on Highway 94.

In the gambling case, Winfrey admitted that in July 2004 he bought $180 in chips at Ameristar Casino then exchanged them with another cashier, his girlfriend, for $595 in cash. She was charged with stealing and violating riverboat gambling law.

Ameristar spokesman Mike Knopfel said Tuesday he knew of the case but was unaware of the state Supreme Court ruling. A representative of the attorney generals office, which opposed Winfreys appeal, could not be reached.

The Supreme Court determined Winfreys chip purchase and subsequent exchange did not violate state law, which requires the taking of something of value from gambling.

Judge Mary Rhodes Russell dissented, contending Winfrey is guilty because the chips only purpose is for use in casino games.

"The plain meaning of the statutes words encompasses Winfreys actions because, although he did not actually engage in a gambling game, the casino chips he used are intended solely for use in gambling games and, therefore, are directly connected to gambling," Russell found.

Winfrey pleaded guilty in St. Charles County Circuit Court of attempting to commit a prohibited act on a gambling boat and later filed an appeal. Circuit Judge Ted House sentenced Winfrey to seven years in prison on that charge.

But the Supreme Court ruled narrowly that Winfrey didnt violate the state law.

"The statute plainly requires proof that a person took money or something of value in or from the gambling games, which (state law) defines as games of skill or chance in a casino, not the casino itself," the court ruled. "As such, the plain language of the statute does not cover conduct that has no connection to any actual gambling game."

Other news from around the same time

Betting industry urges EU action vs. German ban - Monday 28th of January 2008

Europes online gaming industry filed a complaint with the European Commission on Tuesday, saying Ger....

Challenge to German gambling ban - Monday 28th of January 2008

Under the law which came into force on 1 January, online gaming and betting are prohibited, although....

Banks attack conflicting US gambling rules - Saturday 22nd of December 2007

Banking lobbyists are warning the US Treasury that regulations proposed in the wake of last years sw....

London Underground censors bookies bingo ads - Saturday 22nd of December 2007

Irish bookmaker Paddy Power has run into trouble with its latest ad campaign. Officials at London Un....

Bookies may part with SIS stake - Friday 21st of December 2007

Three of Britains biggest bookmakers are considering offering to sell around half of their controlli....

Fortuna buys Croatian betting firm Favorit - Friday 21st of December 2007

Betting company Fortuna has expanded its activities to the Croatian odds betting market where it has....

LAS VEGAS GOLF IN THE ORIENT - Friday 21st of December 2007

With major changes in the plans for the Macau gaming industry comes the necessity to have an interna....

Dion ends five-year run at Las Vegas casino - Friday 21st of December 2007

Celine Dion has called it a wrap at Caesars Palace, acknowledging in her final show that pregnancy a....

Jeff Simpson agrees with New Jerseys decision not to renew the license of the Tropicana there - Monday 28th of January 2008

Waves from Atlantic City might be felt in VegasIll admit I was shocked by Wednesdays decision by the....

Station Casinos have grand plans for Reno - Friday 21st of December 2007

It all started in 1976 when a bellhop-turned-dealer at the Tropicana had a dream to build a place wh....