Sports Betting Discussion Continues In Missouri
After an eight-hour discussion over a piece of sports betting legislation in the Misosuri Senate on April 5, the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer pulled the bill off the floor without a vote. The bill is back on the Senate’s informal calendar.
The bill, SB 30, would create up to 39 online skins and 13 in-person sportsbooks at Missouri riverboat casinos. It would tax sports betting revenue at 15% (per a recent amendment) with the bulk of the tax proceeds going to youth education. Its companion bill, HB 556, passed the House by a vote of 118-35 in late March.
SB 30, however, was met with a familiar obstacle this legislative session as video lottery terminals (VLTs) were brought into question for the second straight year.
Will VLTs Be The Death Of Sports Betting?
VLTs are unregulated slot machine-like consoles that can be found around Missouri in places like gas stations or convenience stores. Many Missouri lawmakers believe that VLTs and sports betting should be treated as two separate issues, hence why HB 556 and SB 30 do not include it in the language of the bill. Sen. Denny Hoskins also proposed a bill this legislative session that included VLTs, however it stalled. Once his bill failed, Hoskins promised to be an “obstructionist” to any bill excluding VLTs.
Hoskins is among the minority of Missouri lawmakers who want VLTs and sports betting legalized simultaneously. As a result, he led the eight-hour filibuster that included over a dozen proposed amendments to the legislation. His similar actions last year are what ultimately brought a near-identical bill to its failure in 2022.
“We’ve just kind of been spinning our wheels,” Senate President Caleb Rowden said after hours of debate. Rowden, who supports sports betting, went as far to say that the legislature looked like “idiots”.
Right before the meeting on April 5 adjourned, Rowden put Hoskins’ VLT amendment to a vote – it failed.
C'mon, people. Just get it done. Or folks will continue to bet in ways that deprive Missouri and its legitimate institutions, including sports franchises, of revenue.
Here in KC, that just means more trips to parking lots across the line. https://t.co/YGRIkm3a1Q
— Mayor Q (@QuintonLucasKC) April 6, 2023
Legalization Not Impossible, But Not Easy Either
With the bill back on the informal calendar, there is no telling when it will be discussed next, however the legislative session ends on May 5, so time is of the essence.
Luetkemeyer had said prior to the April 5 meeting, “if we had a standalone vote on a clean sports wagering bill, it would pass with flying colors in the Senate.” That confidence could be waning now, given the outcome of the discussion.
But not all hope is lost – Rep. Dan Houx, who sponsored HB 556, still has a clean bill passed in the House. Both Houx and Luetkemeyer have backing from a large coalition which includes Missouri’s professional sports teams, its casino companies, and commercial sportsbook operators.