Missouri was one of a handful of states looking to legalize sports betting in 2021, and there was plenty of optimism that a new law would be passed. That optimism has now come to a complete halt, and it appears as if this state will miss out on another chance to legalize the industry.
Senate Bill 98 was the piece of legislation that was gaining traction to begin 2021, and that bill was sponsored by Senator Denny Hoskins. This bill not only called for the legalization of sports betting but would also legalize gaming terminals.
There were other bills introduced in 2021 to legalize sports betting, but SB 98 was the only one that was discussed. The Missouri state Senate did not officially take a vote on this bill, and therefore it was not advanced to the House.
Missouri is a state looking for new revenue sources, and it has the potential to be a large sports betting market. St. Louis is a major sports market in the US, and online sportsbooks would be looking to apply for a license in the state.
Gaming Terminals Causing the Debate
Most lawmakers in the state of Missouri agree that sports betting should be legal, but there has yet to be a bill that simply focuses on that issue. This state has dealt with issues surrounding video game terminals for the last few years, and this form of gaming has been included in SB 98.
SB 98 calls for the legalizing of video lottery terminals, but some lawmakers are not willing to approve that at this time. There is plenty of illegal activity surrounding VLTs taking place in Missouri, and putting a bill in place could keep this from happening.
Competition Surrounding the State
It is clear that the longer Missouri waits to legalize sports betting, the more money it is set to lose. The Midwest portion of the US has seen massive sports betting growth since 2018, and that includes a number of states that border Missouri.
Illinois specifically has turned into one of the biggest markets in the United States, and the St. Louis area has helped this growth. It would take Missouri a few years to establish a strong market, but it could pose a real threat to the other states in the Midwest.
A Hail Mary Coming?
There is still a chance that this bill could be back on the table next week, but it is highly unlikely that it occurs. Now that SB 98 is no longer on the floor, most believe that the chance to legalize sports betting is dead for 2021.
That is simply not the case, though, as the bill still remains on the informal calendar. Denny Hoskins is still able to bring the bill back up for discussion, but he will need to gain more support before he takes that next step.
The legislative session is set to end on May 14, and there are still a number of other issues to discuss. The belief that sports betting legislation in Missouri is dead for 2021 is not factually correct but could wind up being accurate.