Missouri Has A New Sports Betting Bill, And It Has A Familiar Problem

Missouri Has A New Sports Betting Bill, And It Has A Familiar Problem
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Missouri Sen. Denny Hoskins upended the Missouri sports betting hopes this summer when he added video lottery terminals (VLTs) into the mix, which created a toxic cocktail destined to fail. Hoskins is holding the line on VLTs, with a pre-filed bill (SB 1) that seeks to legalize sports and VLTs. 

On the VLT front, Sb 1 “allows the State Lottery Commission to implement a system of video lottery game terminals and to issue licenses to video lottery game manufacturers, distributors, operators, handlers, and retailers.”

The bill’s sports betting section reads, “This act authorizes wagering on sporting events, including esports, and modifies the definition of "gambling game" to include sports wagering.” 

A few key details are as follows:

  • No company can monopolize VLTs in Missouri, with the bill explicitly stating that no operators can have greater than a 25% share by 2027.
  • VLTs may be placed in retail lottery locations, fraternal organizations, veterans' organizations, truck stops, and establishments licensed to sell alcohol by the drink.
  • Lottery retailers can host up to five VLTs. All other licensees are capped at eight machines.
  • SB 1 would legalize retail sports betting at Missouri casinos and over the internet.
  • Online sports betting would be run through Missouri casinos – each allowed to offer two mobile betting platforms – and designated sports districts (professional sports teams) that can provide a single mobile betting platform.

Sports Betting’s Only Hope in Missouri

Missouri sports betting’s only legitimate opportunity is decoupling itself from VLTs. The problem is that Hoskins is unlikely to let that happen unless VLT legislation is passed concurrently or before sports betting. 

Because of Missouri Senate rules, Hoskins was able to filibuster the state’s sports betting measure in 2022 (just as he did in 2021), claiming he would offer up more than 150 amendments if VLTs were omitted. “I’m prepared to offer 153 amendments, one amendment for each million dollars in revenue that should go to education but instead is going to the casino bottom line,” Hoskins said, highlighting the $153 million VLTs were projected to add. 

A standalone sports betting bill (SB 30) was prefiled by Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer on December 1. But any standalone bill the state considers cannot circumvent VLTs hanging around and upsetting the apple cart.