Casinos Benefit Missouri
Casinos Benefit Missouri

Eureka student wins first-place scholarship from the Missouri Gaming Association


JEFFERSON CITY, MO – Blake Jesse of Eureka, MO, a 2022 graduate of Eureka High School is one of four students in Missouri to win the 26th annual Project 21 Scholarship competition sponsored by the Missouri Gaming Association, the professional organization representing casino operators in Missouri. 

Jesse is the first place winner, and will receive a $2,500 scholarship towards tuition at the University of Kansas, where he plans to earn a degree in computer science.

Jesse wrote an essay titled “Could You Be Participating In Underage Gambling?” that discusses how many people are not aware of the legal age to gamble, what constitutes gambling and the rise in the numbers of underage gamblers. Jesse also designed a poster titled “The Legal Age to Gamble is 21” that was displayed at school to bring awareness to his peers.

“COVID-19 forced normal activities to go to a virtual environment that has caused a rise in online underage gambling,” said Jesse. “There are many forms of gambling which can seem innocent yet are still under the umbrella of underage gambling, such as video games with loot boxes that can lead to participation in underage gambling.”

The Project 21 Scholarship was developed to educate young people about the issues and dangers of underage gambling. In Missouri, it’s illegal for persons under the age of 21 to gamble in a casino. The competition is open to all Missouri high school seniors planning to attend an institution of higher education in the United States within four years of graduation.

The students were asked to create an essay/article, poster or video aimed at educating their peers about the illegality and dangers of underage gambling. The entries were published or viewed in the students’ high schools in January or February to help educate other students.

The Missouri Gaming Association awards one $2,500 scholarship and three $1,500 scholarships, jointly issued to the winners and the accredited institutions of higher education they select.

“The Missouri casino industry is dedicated to education in our state, both through the education funding from gaming tax revenues and through awareness efforts like Project 21,” said Mike Winter, executive director of the Missouri Gaming Association.  “Young people are influenced mostly by what they hear from their peers, so Project 21 encourages students to learn about the issues of underage gambling and to share that information with their classmates.”

The Missouri Gaming Association (MGA) is the statewide trade association of the Missouri casino entertainment industry. Founded in 1994, the Missouri Gaming Association works to promote responsible gaming and increase awareness of the economic benefits of casinos in Missouri. The MGA and its casino company members sponsor year-round responsible gaming programs including the 1-888-BETSOFF crisis line and referral service, Project 21 scholarship competition, and Responsible Gaming Awareness Week. For more information, visit

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