Four states have public accommodation statutes that are ambiguous as to whether they cover retail stores. Missouri and Nebraska have statutes that provide first a broad general definition of what constitutes a place of public accommodation, and then second, include the enumerated list from Title II. Virginia and Wyoming are unclear in that their statutes prohibit racial discrimination in places of public accommodation, but do not define what constitutes a place of public accommodation. In all four states, the rights of black shoppers are unclear because the statutes remain ambiguous as to where discrimination is and is not allowed.

      Missouri and Nebraska's public accommodation statutes are almost identical. The Missouri Human Rights Act (MHRA) begins with a broad, general definition of places of public accommodation: “all places or businesses offering or holding out to the general public, goods, services, privileges, facilities, advantages or accommodations for the peace, comfort, health, welfare and safety of the general public or such public places providing food, shelter, recreation and amusement.” Under this general definition, retail stores would be considered places of public accommodation, given that they offer goods to the general public. However, the statute then provides the same enumerated list found in Title II, although the Missouri and Nebraska lists differ from Title II in that they are not exclusive. There are two reasons why including the list from Title II causes confusion despite a clear introductory statement. First, the ejusdem generis rule of statutory construction establishes that when a statute has a list of specific terms followed by a general definition, the general definition is still limited to terms similar to the enumerated specific terms. By providing a list of places of public accommodation, even if the list is non-exclusive, the MHRA implies that unlisted businesses that are not similar to those listed in the statute are not covered. Second, the enumerated list expressly comprises restaurants, including “any such facility located on the premises of any retail establishment.” Later, the list states that any “establishment which is physically located within the premises of any establishment otherwise covered by this section” is also considered a place of public accommodation. Similarly to Title II, if retail establishments were places of public accommodation under the MHRA, then the phrase “any such facility located on the premises of any retail establishment” would be superfluous. To give that phrase meaning, retail establishments would need to be excluded. The Missouri and Nebraska statutes are unclear in the sense that they imply that retail stores both are and are not covered as places of public accommodation. As long as there is no clear answer in the statute, the rights of black shoppers cannot be adequately protected.

      Virginia and Wyoming have statutes that do not define place of public accommodation. Because “place of public accommodation” is a term of art used in various different statutes to refer to a variety of different locations, merely invoking the phrase with no clarification or definition provides little useful information. Since the states also have little case law on the subject, and none involving racial discrimination, it is an open question as to whether the statutes refer to the Title II definition that excludes retail stores, or some other interpretation. Thus, in Virginia and Wyoming, the rights of black shoppers are also not adequately protected.