Missouri Sports Betting Bill Dies in the Senate

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Head coach Andy Reid of the Kansas City Chiefs reacts during the fourth quarter of a game against the Las Vegas Raiders at Allegiant Stadium on November 26, 2023. Jeff Bottari/Getty Images/AFP

Despite its smooth passage in the House during this session, the Missouri sports betting measure faced resistance in the Senate. As a result, the Missouri legislature adjourned on Friday without sending any sports betting legislation to Governor Mike Parsons for approval.

So, while there were multiple proposals on the table heading into the session, Show-Me State residents are again left without Missouri sports betting.

Filibustering Foils Sports Betting Bills

The House added legal sports betting to Sen. Denny Hoskins’ Missouri Rural Workforce Development Act and returned it to the Senate, placing Hoskins in a position where he had to choose whether to advance SB 92 or not. 

The move created a political controversy since senators attempted to force a decision between cutting personal property taxes and legalizing sports betting. But Hoskins, who has long wanted to tie legal wagering to the legalization of video lottery terminals, ultimately decided not to move the bill forward. This led to a series of heated exchanges among Senate lawmakers. 

“We can either have chaos, which we have had for the last few days or years, or a respectful, organized situation,” Senate Floor Leader Cindy O’Laughlin told her peers. “What is happening is that we are having senators bring to the floor legislation that they cannot get passed, and in retaliation, they are hanging up the Senate (for hours).”

Sports betting ultimately became a victim of the Senate impasse.

In the End-No Sports Betting in Missouri

Sen. Bill Eigel conducted a filibuster in which he expressed disappointment over the legislature’s lack of progress in advancing conservative priorities.

“There is no deal on sports betting,” Eigel said Thursday. “It’s not going to happen no matter what we do on personal property tax.”

Eigel cited the influence of special-interest lobbyists, including those advocating for sports betting, in delaying action on critical matters during the session. In the course of his filibuster, he even read passages from Ronald Reagan’s biography and the Missouri GOP platform.

Before Eigel’s speech, there was a problem on the Senate floor that caused confusion. Earlier in the day, Eigel asked to speak, but Senate President Caleb Rowden didn’t allow him to. Later, Rowden apologized and allowed Eigel to speak, but Rowden blamed Hoskins and Eigel for the failure of both the personal property tax and legal betting issues during the session.

There’s Still Hope for Sports Betting in Missouri

Seven of the eight states that border Missouri have already legalized sports betting, including:

  • Arkansas
  • Illinois
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Tennessee
  • Kentucky

Kentucky’s law will take effect on June 1st, while Nebraska’s regulator is still working on its set of rules. Only one state, Oklahoma, does not allow sports betting.

Missouri’s professional sports teams are considering asking voters to decide whether or not to legalize sports betting via a ballot initiative. However, the deadline to get on the 2023 ballot has already passed, so the teams would have to wait until 2024, which is also the year when Hoskins will no longer be able to run for Senate due to term limits. 

The bigger question is whether stakeholders or lawmakers will try to legalize sports betting again next year or wait until 2025 when the political landscape may have changed.