Coronavirus Shutdown Dims Chances For Missouri Sports Betting Legislation

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Missouri sports betting

Disruption of the legislative session caused by the coronavirus likely derailed Missouri sports betting legislation.

Rep. Phil Christofanelli authored one of the six MO sports betting bills filed this year. He tells Legal Sports Report that he doesn’t see sports betting legislation receiving consideration this session.

“It is unlikely that any policy bills will pass this session,” Christofanelli said.

Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, he believed Missouri was on track to pass a sports betting bill in 2020.

Status of Missouri Legislature during pandemic

The Missouri Legislature came back April 7 after an extended break due to coronavirus concerns.

However, the chambers looked much different than usual. Only 10 lawmakers, all wearing masks, were allowed on the floor at any one time. The chambers closed to visitors and lobbyists.

Legislators returned to pass a coronavirus emergency aid package and supplemental budget to provide funding until the end of June.

That could set up a special session to address the budget in June, extending the usual May 8 deadline. Typically, the legislative session ends on May 15.

Future of Missouri sports betting

Entering the year, Missouri was considered one of the five states most likely to legalize sports betting in 2020.

The Special Committee on Government Oversight advanced three House bills: Christofanelli’s H 2318, Rep. Cody Smith’s H 2284 and Rep. Dan Shaul’s H 2088. Schaul’s bill made it all the way to the House floor after passing through the Legislative Oversight Committee.

The industry-supported Christofanelli’s bill because it didn’t include video lottery terminals (VLT) or mandate use of official league data.

The Show-Me State made progress on sports betting in 2020, showing the legislative will to get a bill done.

If lawmakers give up on trying to tie sports betting to the VLT bill that essentially adds slot machines at bars and restaurants,  Missouri could be able to pass a sports betting bill in 2021.