Missouri Considering Sports Betting With Support From Professional Teams

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The St. Louis Cardinals mascot Fredbird waves a victory flag after defeating the Miami Marlins at Busch Stadium in St Louis, Missouri. Michael B. Thomas/Getty Images/AFP

The Show Me State may be late to the party but it is the latest in a growing list of states considering the regulation and legalization of sports betting within Missouri.

Two Senate Bills Introduced

There are currently two bills before Missouri State Senators, one being strictly concerned with sports betting, while the other is the same, but also addresses the legalization and regulation of video lottery terminals (VLT) that are currently seen scattered throughout the state but are unregulated, and more importantly, untaxed.

Luetkemeyer’s Bill

Senator Tony Luetkemeyer has introduced the sports betting bill that does not address the VLTs (SB 30) but is the one which the six major sports teams’ favor.

The State Senator representing the 34th Senatorial District, comprised of Buchanan and Platte Counties, believes sports betting legislation “comes with natural challenges, so it is critical that we adopt a framework that provides strong regulations and oversight to protect consumers and also to benefit the state’s educational system.”

Plenty of Supporters

Bill DeWitt III, president of the St. Louis Cardinals, said, “One of the downsides of the delay of several years here is that fans haven’t been able to do it. However, one of the good sides is that we’ve learned from other states. We’ve learned how to tweak this to make it more reflective of the market that’s out there.”

As for why professional franchises prefer the one without video terminal language, DeWitt stated, “I think our position is that we’d like to see the two issues bifurcated. But in this one, they’re together, so that’s a political calculation.”

Missouri casinos also support Tony Luetkemeyer’s bill, as it would allow those entities a share of the sports betting pie.

The bill proposes a 10% tax on gross gaming revenue, while $500,000 per year would be earmarked from the Gaming Commission Fund to the Compulsive Gamblers Fund. Any other taxes generated would be directed to go to the Gaming Proceeds for Education Fund.

Sports Betting & VLTs

Senator Denny Hoskins also proposed sports betting legislation (Senate Bill 1) that has much of the same language as his colleague Senator Luetkemeyer’s version but has a whopping $5 million per annum going towards the Compulsive Gamblers Fund.

However, more than that, this bill would regulate video lottery terminals throughout Missouri.

Regulations on VLTs

The unregulated machines currently found in truck stops, bars, and several other businesses would be supplanted by state-authorized machines that would include the following provisions:

  • Up to eight machines would be authorized for veterans’ organizations, fraternal clubs, and truck stops.
  • Other businesses like restaurants and bars would be permitted to have up to five machines on site.
  • Only those 21 and older would be allowed to operate the machines, with a $5 maximum bet per game.

“I’ve had bills that were just sportsbook only. I’ve had bills that were VLTs only. I’ve had bills that were just dealing with the gray gaming market, but nothing has made it across the finish line. It’s time to get something done,” Hoskins said.

The VLT portion of the bill does not have the support of Missouri casinos, and Mike Winter of the Missouri Gaming Association said, “We need an even playing field. There is nothing in this bill that puts the VLT slot machines on an even playing field with the existing slot machines and reserved casinos.”