The future of sports betting in Missouri took a body blow Wednesday, when the state Senate tabled discussion on a wagering bill after more than eight hours of debate.
But by Thursday afternoon, sports betting in the state had renewed hope.
The bill discussed Wednesday, SB-30, would have legalized online and retail wagering in the Show Me State, but ran into opposition from video lottery terminal advocates.
The coupling of bountiful amendments and VLT objection led by Sen. Denny Hoskins (R-Warrensburg) ultimately forced bill sponsor Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer to pull SB-30 from the floor after the daylong debate.
That decision came after hours of debate and 12 amendments were proposed, ranging from upping the tax rate from 12% to 15%, to raising the casino admission fee from $2 to $4.16 on all online wagers.
Shortly before tabling his bill, Luetkemeyer told lawmakers he’s not ready to throw in the towel on sports betting in the state. With the Senate’s session not ending until May 12, Luetkemeyer argued sports betting isn’t done yet.
“I am under no illusions,” Luetkemeyer said. “It is still an uphill battle. We are going to continue to have those conversations and see if they bear any fruit.”
What's Next For Missouri Sports Betting
On Thursday, that uphill battle began, as HB-556, the sports betting bill which cleared the House by a 113-35-2 margin last month, was assigned to the Senate Appropriations Committee.
HB-556 sponsor Rep. Dan Houx told BetMissouri.com in a text message Wednesday, sports betting wasn’t done yet for the 2023 session.
“I don't think sportsbook in MO is DOA,” he said. “Still have a lot of time left in session.”
While there’s no exact time or date given for HB-556's first Senate hearing, the committee assignment is a welcome step forward.
“We have known from Day 1 that the battle for sports betting has always been in the Senate,” B Global Advisors managing partner Brendan Bussmann said. “Yesterday's exercise in filibustering proved that. The question becomes whether the ‘champions’ of sports betting will realize they lost not only on committee but also on the floor yesterday on VGTs (video gaming terminals).
“While some love the attention they are getting as obstructionist, it’s time for the Senate to work through an acceptable solution for both houses and end five years of debate on sports betting.”
One thing that seems sure is VLTs and VGTs will not be included in any future sports betting bill after a late-night amendment to add the gray market gaming machines to the Senate's sports betting bill failed by a 20-11 margin.
The VLT issue also derailed sports betting during the 2022 legislative session.
At the same time, Kansas legislators were passing a sports betting bill, allowing the state to launch Sept. 1, 2022.
Several Missouri senators addressed the black eye the chamber will suffer with the public if they once again fail to get a sports betting bill onto the governor’s desk.
“If we go home in May without addressing these issues that people have been very vocal on,” Sen. Nick Schroer (R-O’Fallon) said, “it is somewhat embarrassing.”