Missouri Senator Wants Sports Betting, As 16,000 Try To Bet Illegally

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Missouri Senator Wants Sports Betting, As 16,000 Try To Bet Illegally
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With online sports betting in Kansas now legal, a key lawmaker next door in Missouri vows to take another shot at approving sports wagering when the Legislature meets in 2023. This comes as thousands of Missourians have gone online trying to bet illegally in Kansas.

Missouri Senate Majority Leader Caleb Rowden, R-Columbia, said in a tweet he will seek to legalize sports betting during the next regular legislative session in Jefferson City. This promise came in response to a tweet from Missouri social studies teacher Jim Janes, who asked if Rowden is “good with Missourians spending their money out of state for sports betting.”

“No, I’m not good with it,” Rowden replied. “And it will be a priority of mine to rectify it in our upcoming regular session.”

Missouri Residents Tried to Bet In Kansas

When Kansas sports wagering went live on Sept. 1, Missourians made more than 16,000 illegal attempts in the first eight hours to access Kansas sportsbooks online, according to GeoComply, a cybersecurity and fraud prevention firm. 

Of those, 60% were based in Kansas City, Missouri. The city straddles the Kansas-Missouri state line. These attempts were blocked by geofencing that restricts wagering to bettors using mobile apps in Kansas or showing up in-person at a Kansas casino sportsbook.

Missouri Pro Sports Teams Want Sports Betting

A legislative effort to approve sports betting in Missouri this year was unsuccessful, despite backing from the state’s professional sports teams. These teams include the Kansas City Chiefs, Kansas City Royals, St. Louis Cardinals and St. Louis Blues.

Sports betting legislation stalled partly because of a dispute over regulating video lottery terminals across the state. An effort to legalize sports betting is not expected to take place during an upcoming special legislative session on income tax cuts and farming tax incentives. The special session was scheduled to begin Tuesday but now is expected to begin on or around Sept. 14. 

Former Mafia Betting Empire

Decades ago, Kansas City, Missouri, was the regional base of an illegal Mafia bookmaking empire led by crime boss Nick Civella. However, federal criminal convictions decimated the Civella crime family, which also had received illegally skimmed casino gaming revenue from Las Vegas.  

Now, sports betting is legal in six states surrounding Missouri. In one of those, Nebraska, sports betting is legal but has not yet gone live. Sports betting legislation failed this year in two bordering states, Oklahoma and Kentucky, though both states are expected to bring it back up during next year’s legislative sessions.

Missouri Senator Hates Kansas

When legal sports betting began in Kansas, Gov. Laura Kelly, a Democrat, placed a bet on the Kansas City Chiefs to win the Super Bowl, set for Feb. 12, 2023, in Glendale, Arizona. She placed her bet at the Hollywood Casino in Kansas City.

The Chiefs open their regular season schedule Sunday in Glendale against the Arizona Cardinals. At FanDuel Sportsbook, the Chiefs are favored by 5.5 points.

“Every day I hear from Kansans across the state who are eager to finally place legal wagers on sports,” the governor tweeted. “I’m glad we were able to move quickly to get this bipartisan effort done in time for football season.”

Rowden said he does not like seeing Kansas prevail over Missouri in anything.

“I generally hate the state of Kansas in every way, shape and form,” the Missouri state senator told Fox4 in Kansas City. “So to see them do something better than us, I don’t love.”

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