As Missouri Sports Betting Hopes Fade Again, Pro Teams Want New Path

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Missouri sports betting

Barring a last-minute miracle, Missouri sports betting legislation appears dead as the session winds down this week.

With the legislature set to adjourn Friday, it appears increasingly unlikely lawmakers will reach a deal to legalize sports betting in the Show-Me State. One industry source summed up the MO sports betting situation succinctly this week: “Done.”

There could be one final attempt to sway self-described obstructionist Sen. Denny Hoskins out of the way of legalized sports betting, but it also is unlikely, according to sources. Beyond the legislative session, however, a push to put the issue on the ballot for voters is shaping up.

One more attempt in Missouri?

One industry source told LSR the chances of the leading sports betting proposal, HB 556, moving in the Senate are essentially zero. It passed the House, 118-35, in March.

The lack of Senate action is because Hoskins refuses to allow sports betting daylight without attaching regulation for video lottery terminals (VLT). There is a chance MO sports betting proponents tie the issue to a more pressing bill Hoskins is ushering through the legislature to see if that gets the Senator to change his tune.

“Best case scenario is they take a Hoskins priority bill and add sports betting to it in the House,” a source told LSR this week. “Hoskins will then have to decide how bad he wants this other stuff, but it’s doubtful he’s willing to negotiate. He made his bed a long time ago it seems.”

Teams push for sports betting ballot initiative

As the Missouri Senate sits on a House-approved sports betting plan for the second straight year, St. Louis Cardinals President Bill DeWitt III told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch last week the MLB team is considering a push for a statewide voter initiative to legalize MO sports betting. If successful, sports betting could be on the 2024 ballot.

“We’re going to take a serious look at that,” DeWitt told the Post-Dispatch. “I think there are a few things we may push on here at the end. We’re just so frustrated. It’s working against our fans and our citizens who overwhelmingly support it.” 

The Kansas City Royals told KMBC this week the team is open to a petition campaign.

Teams behind Missouri sports betting effort

The professional sports teams in Missouri are a major part of a coalition pushing the past two legislative efforts for sports betting. The teams are joined by Missouri casino operators and national sportsbook operators. 

Under the legislation, the 13 riverboat casinos can open in-person sportsbooks. The casino operators can each partner with up to three online operators, while the teams can contract with a single online sportsbook. A total of 39 skins would be available. The legislation creates a 15% tax on sports betting revenue.

DeWitt told the Post-Dispatch sports betting “unlocks a big sponsorship category” and would be a great fan engagement tool.

Hoskins accepts blame in Missouri – sort of

Hoskins led an eight-hour filibuster on April 5 that led to the Senate counterpart to HB 556 being pulled back from the floor. The Senator accepts blame, according to Post-Dispatch, but also said it is not entirely his fault.

Earlier this session, Hoskins promised to block MO sports betting when his bill combining the issue with VLT failed to move out of committee. During the filibuster, a vote to include VLT in the bill failed, 20-11.

“I know I get a lot of the blame for sportsbook not passing, but neither of these bills are mine. I don’t control them,” Hoskins told the Post-Dispatch last week. “As of right now, I would say it’s very doubtful that sporstbook will pass in the state of Missouri this year.”