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Missouri’s legislative session ended last month with no forward progress on passing a bill to legalize sports betting in the Show Me State, a failure to act as lawmakers that state Senator Holly Thompson Rehder has called “ridiculous” and “frustrating” as time keeps ticking away.
Every month that Missouri delays launching a legal sports gambling market is millions of potential tax and industry-related dollars the state is missing out on as resident bettors take their action elsewhere to illegal bookies or unregulated offshore sportsbooks, those dollars gone.
According to Sen. Thompson Rehder, the opposition to moving forward on this potentially lucrative issue comes from a clear source, telling the media:
From what I saw, you had the casinos pushing back. People are territorial and I get it because nobody wants to lose money. They just couldn’t pull it off.
An understandable reaction from the only game in town, but the casinos can’t keep sports betting out of Missouri forever, though so far they are doing a pretty effective job of it.
The idea of legalizing sports betting was kicked around Missouri’s congress in the form of three proposals that created three different versions of that market, a tricky step since the language must lay out how the regulatory aspects of such an operation would look.
One major sticking point in the Missouri debates was whether a sports betting bill should include video lottery terminals (VLT), the so-called “gray machines” that either involve chance or skill depending on who you ask, a dealbreaker either way for too many lawmakers to move forward.
Most state lawmakers like Thompson Rehder were not included in the sports betting bill debate, the Senator admitting, “I was not behind closed doors talking about sports betting because that’s not my wheelhouse,” a factor that keeps these talks from seeming politically inclusive.
The bill never made it to the Senate floor this session, for reasons that representatives Rick Francis suspect could have been avoided, saying:
It got close, real close, this year. The Senate dilly-dallied around the whole session, tried to get a few things passed in the last week, but the bill didn’t get through.
Meanwhile, Missouri’s closest state neighbor is gunning for their action.
Starting in 2023, Kansas will launch its own legal sports betting market, and as we have reported in the past that state has a solitary purpose: to steal the pro teams from Missouri by offering them a sweeter legal-sports-betting-based deal in nearby Kansas.
Missouri Representative Jamie Burger sees the bigger picture and understands why a legal sports betting market is inevitable in his state, saying:
I support (sports betting) wholeheartedly. We’re losing revenues to surrounding states (and) I think we need them in Missouri.
He makes a solid argument since MO residents can travel to Arkansas, Illinois, Tennessee, Iowa, and soon Nebraska to place legal sports bets, so all that handle and potential tax revenue is being shipped out of state, an income stream that over thirty other states are now enjoying.
Missouri’s legislature is not scheduled to meet until next year, so nothing can get done until then, but keep checking back for all the latest news and updates on this unfolding 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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