Missouri Sports Betting: Cardinals President Incensed by Senator Hoskins’ Stance

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PGA champion, Justin Thomas poses with St. Louis Cardinals owner Bill Dewitt Jr., President, Bill Dewitt III and General Manager, John Mozeliak. Michael B. Thomas/Getty Images/AFP.

St. Louis Cardinals president, Bill DeWitt III, has apparently had enough of Missouri State Senator Denny Hoskins and his repeated, albeit successful, attempts to derail sports betting in the Show-Me State.

Big Business at Stake

Professional sports are big business, but so is online sports betting and Cardinals president Bill DeWitt III already has one piece but wants in on the other.

However, State Senator Denny Hoskins’ intractable position, opposing sports betting without getting his way in legalizing video lottery terminals (VLTs), similar to slot machines, that dot the highways and byways of Missouri truck stops, barrooms, and convenience stores have been the bane of sportsbook operators and bettors alike.

As of this writing, the gray machines are referred to as such because they are neither specifically legal nor illegal. Hoskins is no opponent to sports betting, per se, but until he gets VLTs into the state’s sports betting legislation, he is content to take his ball and go home.

Hoskins has employed filibusters in the last two sessions to kill the stand-alone sports betting bills and introduced his own version, SB 1, that linked the two. His bill never made it out of committee and the timing couldn’t have been worse for a sports betting-only bill to surface on the same day. Needless to say, Hoskins wasn’t having it.

During the 2023 session, Hoskins emphatically stated on the Senate floor, “I’ll be an obstructionist until I get my way.”

VLT Companies Fund Hoskins

It is hardly surprising that campaign donations are at the heart of Hoskins’ obstinance when it comes to green-lighting sports betting. According to the Missouri Ethics Commission campaign finance reports, the two-term senator has received donations from Illinois-based J&J Ventures Gaming, as well as the Missouri Coin Operators Association PAC and the MO Coalition For Video Lottery PAC.

All of these have one thing in common – keeping Hoskins in office so the machines they make and distribute will be as legal as the digital sports betting platforms most Show-Me State citizens desire so passionately for Missouri sports betting.

DeWitt appears to be as convinced VLTs have no legislative traction as Hoskins is adamant about not losing the leverage he has by supporting a sports betting-only bill. The senator understands that if he bends on a stand-alone bill then the VLT cause will break.

The Cardinals’ president said in reference to Hoskins, “Obviously, he has been our issue. We are ready to negotiate with him and he’s shared no interest. We’re frustrated, it’s a winning issue. We think it will happen, it’s just a matter of when.”

Industry insiders are pessimistic about Missouri’s sports betting implementation in 2024, and one stated, “It’s really him. There are enough people who want to get sports betting done. It’s getting sort of ridiculous. I don’t think others have the passion for what he says is fairness for VLTs. He’s really the sticking point.”

The most likely path to sports betting will be Hoskins exiting the Senate due to term limits in 2025. However, there is always another politician who will rally around the VLT cause as long as the price is right. Which Missouri lawmaker will take Hoskins’ place and champion the cause when he does leave is anyone’s guess, but whether they will be as zealous and obstinate as Hoskins is highly unlikely.