Missouri Sports Betting Bill Expected to Die in the Senate (Again)

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The Missouri state flag is seen flying outside the Missouri State Capitol Building. Michael B. Thomas/Getty Images/AFP.

Through the years, bills regarding sports betting in Missouri have never really had a chance to be passed, but for the third straight year, a bill to legalize sports wagering has reached the Senate floor. The big question now is whether Senate lawmakers are warming up to the idea. 

Same Old Story

In the last two legislative sessions, measures for sports betting were stalled due to a Senate deadlock on increased gaming.

In both years, the Missouri House passed a bill negotiated by casino operators and major sports leagues, only to see it die in the Senate, where a few politicians argue it should not pass unless video lottery machines are legalized.

Opposition to the bill has been led by Sen. Denny Hoskins. He has long attempted to tie legal wagering to legal video lottery terminals (VLTs) and even sponsored a bill that authorized both forms of gambling.

Video lottery machine marketers, who have their own lobbying team, have argued that any policy that extends gambling should prioritize state money over private sector revenue.

History of Missouri Sports Betting Bills 

Missouri has had several attempts to legalize sports betting in recent years. Here is a brief history of sports betting bills in Missouri:

  • 2018: In January 2018, Hoskins introduced a bill that would have allowed sports betting at casinos and licensed facilities in Missouri. However, the bill did not advance past the committee stage.
  • 2019: In February 2019, another sports betting bill was introduced in Missouri, this time by Representative Dean Plocher. The bill would have allowed sports betting at licensed facilities and via mobile devices. However, the bill failed to make it out of the House committee.
  • 2020: In January 2020, two sports betting bills were introduced in the Missouri legislature. One bill was introduced by Senator Tony Luetkemeyer and the other by Representative Cody Smith. Both bills would have allowed sports betting at casinos and licensed facilities, as well as via mobile devices. However, the bills did not progress any further due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • 2021: In January 2021, Hoskins introduced another sports betting bill. The bill would have allowed sports betting at casinos and licensed facilities, as well as via mobile devices. The bill received a hearing in the Senate committee but was not ultimately passed.
  • 2022: In 2022, a standalone sports betting bill was killed by a filibuster on the Senate floor. 

And now, here we are once again in 2023. A sports betting bill that many want to see passed, making it to the Senate for review.

The Fight Is Far From Over

Despite lawmakers not being able to agree on how to put together the framework for a sports betting bill, the fight will go on.

Over 200,000 Missourians already have sports betting accounts and go to Kansas, Illinois, or other states to place bets. And the issue is likely to come up again in the future as more and more neighboring states legalize sports betting.

Kentucky was the most recent one after Gov. Andy Beshear signed a bill authorizing sports betting at the state’s thoroughbred racetracks.

On top of that, legislators say legalizing sports betting was the subject most citizens wanted to talk about during last year’s election campaign. So, if this latest bill fails again in the Senate (which is expected), you can be sure another one won’t be far behind.