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After hours of debating last Wednesday, Missouri senators opted not to vote on the House-approved sports betting bill – HB 2502 – that would legalize in-person and online sports gambling there due to the “gray machine” issue that has affected this process from the get-go.
The unregulated gaming kiosks that have lived for years now in Missouri gas stations and rest areas have been dubbed “gray machines” due to their questionable legal status and the debate over whether these machines involve chance or skill remains ongoing among state leaders.
Missouri Senator Mike Bernskoetter has introduced an amendment to HB 2502 that seeks to remove the part of the bill that calls for an additional 5,000 video lottery terminals to be added, his argument being that the state already has enough of these gray machines available.
But state Senator Karla May disagrees, implying the sports betting bill will not get passed if those 5,000 video lottery terminals are not part of the deal, saying:
You’re not going to have one without the other.
That point was driven home when the day ended without a vote on either the amendment or the bill.
As HB 2502 was debated last week in the Missouri Senate chamber, it quickly became clear that the two sides of the issue – those for and against the addition of these 5,000 video lottery terminals – were not going to find common middle ground any time soon.
Senator Denny Hoskins even threw in an obvious filibuster meant to stall a vote on Sen. Bernskoetter’s proposed amendment, with Hoskins at once point asking Bernskoetter whether the state’s casinos had “put him up to this” as a way of assigning motivation for the move.
Missouri’s casinos – there are over a dozen of them located all over the state – are against these “gray machines” due to the direct competition they represent, so adding even more of them as regulated and taxed income streams in Missouri poses a threat to their bottom line.
All this back-and-forth talk, however, simply stalls the inevitable as more than thirty other states have already proven how popular and lucrative a legal sports betting market can be, and time is running out now for Missouri lawmakers to do the same for their resident gamblers.
While the debate over legal sports betting rages on in Missouri, state bettors are being forced to take their action elsewhere, either by using unregulated sportsbooks or illegal local bookies and now also by traveling to neighboring states where that activity has already been made legal.
Missouri’s current legislative session is scheduled to end on May 13, so lawmakers only have a few more weeks to further debate the sports betting issue and come to some final agreement as to how many of these new video lottery terminals, if any, are going to be acceptable.
As this process continues to unfold and sports bettors spend their money elsewhere, millions of potential tax dollars are being lost and lawmakers no doubt understand this, so expect some major compromises to be made on both sides in order to get this issue settled in time.
Keep checking back for all the latest news and updates on this ongoing story.
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Mike Lukas is a retired standup comedian turned freelance writer now living in Dallas, Texas, originally from Cleveland, Ohio. His love for the game of football and all things Cleveland Browns turned Mike into a pro blogger years ago. Now Mike enjoys writing about all thirty-two NFL teams, hoping to help football gamblers gain a slight edge in their pursuit of the perfect wager. Email: [email protected]More info on Mike Lukas
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